Software to help inventory lead water lines in Detroit


A dry water fountain is shown at Gardner Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Some 50,000 Detroit public school students will start the school year Tuesday by drinking water from coolers, not fountains, after the discovery of elevated levels of lead or copper — the latest setback in a state already dealing with […]

DETROIT (AP) — A high-tech strategy could help Detroit save $165 million while also pinpointing the number of lead water lines in the city.

Data crunched with software from technology startup BlueConduit will hopefully provide a report of the probable locations and number of lead lines, the water department said.

The water department believes it only will have to excavate 384 valve boxes instead of more than 300,000. The higher cost of digging up all lines to inspect them likely would have been passed to water customers.

All Michigan cities and townships with lead service lines are required to provide an inventory to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy.

Grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the state will allow Detroit to meet a 2025 deadline.

Based on previous estimates, the water department projects Detroit has approximately 80,000 lead service lines. The replacement program could cost $450 million.

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