Fmr. Grand Rapids Commissioner on lead pipes: 'City should do more'

Lower interest rates to replace lead pipes

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) - The Flint water crisis has forced many Michigan cities to take a close look at their own water infrastructure.

This week, leaders in Grand Rapids announced that they would make it more affordable for homeowners to replace their lead pipes by lowering the financing rate from 7 percent to a little under 3.5 percent.

Former Grand Rapids city commissioner Bill Blickley says that's not enough.

"The city can borrow money for almost zero percent, and it seems to me now that we understand the problem, the city should borrow enough money at a very low interest rate and push to get them all done," said Blickley. "These pipes are almost a hundred years old; they're apt to rupture -- and they do rupture when they get that old -- and if they rupture, it becomes an emergency."

City workers have been replacing lead pipes on the street level but require property owners to take care of the lead pipes that come into their residences.  Blickley says if the city coordinated the replacement with plumbers, it could save homeowners a lot of money because the holes would already be dug.

"I got ahold of my plumber and said, 'What'll it cost me to get that lead pipe replaced to this house once the street is opened up and you can get right at it?' He said that's the time to do it," Blickley said.

Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong has said the city's water is treated properly to keep the lead from contaminating the supply.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


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