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  • Kevin Elliott

Rochester opposes new lead, copper rules

Rochester City Council on Monday, September 24, joined a group of other communities and organizations in opposing the state of Michigan's new lead and copper rules, claiming they will place hardship on them to implement.

Rochester Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Shannon Filarecki said in a memo that the new rules remove the city's ability to effectively manage needed system improvements. She recommended the city join the Great Lakes Water Authority, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner and others in requesting the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in requesting a declaratory ruling on the rules.

Those joining the request also state the rules may be in violation of the state's constitution.

The rules, according to those joining the request, impose a myriad of new and additional regulatory, technical and cost burdens on suppliers of water.

The DEQ in March 2018, amended the lead and copper provisions to impose additional requirements on state drinking water suppliers beyond those imposed by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Under the new rules, which do not provide additional funding, water suppliers must remove privately-owned lead service lines using public money; remove all lead service lines within 20 years, even where existing lines fall below lead action levels; reduce the lead action level from 15 ppb to 12 ppb, triggering additional regulatory action; require sequential sampling; anticipate partial lead service line replacements in emergencies without defining an emergency; and create and provide support for local Drinking Water Advisory Councils.

"The DPW has reviewed the Regulatory Impact Statement and Cost Benefit Analysis in comparison to our proposed Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF) Project Plan. Using the DEQ cost estimates, which I feel are lower than to be expected, our project costs are expected to increase by $1 million, assuming all 177 residents with galvanized water services agree to grant the necessary easements," Filarecki said. "While the intention of the rule change is good, the approach is severely flawed and needs to be corrected or it could have a significant impact on our future water rates."

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