Michigan to urge toughest lead-test rules in US

Governor says state can't wait for federal reforms

FLINT, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and water experts are proposing that the state institute the country's toughest lead-testing rules in the wake of Flint's water emergency.

They're also recommending the replacement of all lead service pipes within a decade.

"The federal Lead and Copper Rule needs to be improved immediately. It's dumb and dangerous and in Michigan we aren't going tow ait for the federal government to fix it anymore," Snyder said. "We need to move forward with these reforms so we can better protect the health and safety of all Michiganders. These new standards could be used as a model for other states to follow and to prevent additional water crises."

The LCR is a federal regulation aimed at controlling lead and copper in the drinking water and can only be altered nationally via federal action. The EPA told Congress on Wednesday that the agency would not have reforms ready until early 2017.

Federal rules require systems to take steps to control corrosion if lead concentrations exceed 15 parts per billion in more than 10 percent of sampled taps. Michigan would move to a limit of 10 parts per billion by 2020.

Other recommendations would require utilities to test all schools and day care centers -- not just houses. Lead plumbing disclosures would be mandatory in home sales.

Read: Snyder says staff told him there wasn't 'really a problem' in Flint

Key highlights of the recommendations:

• Protect the public better by requiring annual lead and copper testing for all schools, day cares, adult foster care facilities, substance abuse clinics, and public hearing facilities as well as initial testing at license grant or opening.

• Improve protection of residents by continuously assessing and making recommendations regarding science, testing, monitoring protocols, water treatments, and corrosion control through a new Advisory Commission on Drinking Water Quality.

• Ensure water customers have a stronger voice by requiring each public water system serving more than 500 customers to create a Water System Advisory Council responsible for local oversight and input.

• Protect homebuyers and renters by requiring disclosure of lead service line status in all home sales and rental contracts.

• Alert the public better by requiring notices to all customers as well as public notices to all schools, community centers, and child care centers when a public water system exceeds the lead action level.

• Protect water systems better by requiring public water systems to follow defined corrosion control treatment standards. Also define proper testing protocols to follow regarding the frequency, size, site selection, and draw of water samples.

• Protect water supplies better by requiring comprehensive lead and copper analysis prior to any significant change in water source or treatment by a public water system. Also require all corrosion control to be performed under the guidance of a licensed engineer.

• Provide better healthcare by requiring strict notifications and access to blood testing for households that test over 40 parts per billion for lead.

• Protect residents more by requiring public water systems to conduct a complete inventory of all service line materials up to the interior meters.

• Improve water systems by requiring every public water system to adopt a full lead service line replacement program within 10 years. Also prohibit partial lead service line replacements.

• Protect residents more by phasing in a reduction in the lead action level from 15 ppb to 10 ppb by 2020 to align with the standards currently used by the World Health Organization.

• Enforce water treatment protections by establishing state fines for violations of state rules to assure accountability and transparency.

Complete Coverage: Flint Water Crisis