Clare Lead Levels Prompt Public Meeting Monday

October 14, 2019

By Pat Maurer

Concerned citizens and business people filled the lower level meeting room at Pere’ Marquette District Library Monday evening for a public hearing about lead levels and the City’s action to remedy the problem. Acting City Manager Steve Kingsbury chaired the public hearing, which was the first item on the City’s regular agenda.

Clare residents and businesses were at a special public hearing Monday evening to find out more about the high lead levels found recently in the water at two Clare Businesses.

The hearing included representatives from the Central Michigan District Health Department, officials from the former Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), now renamed the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), the Department of Health and Human Services and other County officials.

They were there to answer audience concerns about the City’s water supply.

Department of Health and Human Services Drinking Water Unit Manager Steve Crider gave a power point presentation that detailed both the dangers of lead in drinking water, sources, and ways individual property owners could lower any risk.

Lead and Copper Unit Supervisor for EGLE Brandon Onan answered questions and concerns at the hearing.

City Manager Ken Hibl said in his agenda report, “The City of Clare received formal notice from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy September 24, 2019 that its community water supply ninetieth percentile value had exceeded “Actionable Levels” (AL) for lead.”

He said the notice required the City … to initiate mandatory “Public Action” (PA) and “Public Education (PE) requirements within 72 hours.
The City completed the requirements by mailing a formal notice to each of the City’s water customers and by posting the steps being implemented on their Facebook page and website.

Hibl said, “the primary focus of the hearing is to educate the community of the hazards of lead in drinking water, to share information related to actions being taken and planned to ensure the health and safety of Clare’s residents, and to listen to and to respond to the community’s concerns regarding the test results that mandated these actions.”

Last week, Hibl said, that because of the testing requirements, the City “created a new full-time position and hired a new employee with one of his primary tasks being completing this inventory.” He continued, “For the past year that employee has knocked on doors throughout the City and physically inspected the service lines in each business and residence. With the exception of 40 sites that have not allowed us access, we have completed the inventory. During that inventory, we found 131 galvanized service leads … and only four lead service leads, all in our downtown district… [and we] notified the respective property owners and tested the service lines,” Hibl said.

The high lead test results Hibl was talking about earlier were from two Clare businesses, Hicks Jewelers and Dr. Scotts office, which had lead levels exceeding the maximum level allowed by the state (15 or more parts per billion). Hibl noted last week that neither of the businesses used the City water for consumption.

At the public hearing Acting City Manager Steven Kingsbury noted that each of the two businesses used only 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of water and repeated that they didn’t consume the water in the stores.

He stressed that the City water infrastructure did not have detectable lead levels and that the possibility of lead in residential services was only from the point where the individual service lines are connected to the City’s water supply.

Kingsbury added that Clare Public Schools did not have detectable lead found in testing.

He added that some of the connections between galvanized service lines and the City water supply could have a lead solder. He said there were 200 galvanized service lines in the City, but that many of those have already been replaced as part of the road work in the City.

He said the CMDHD would provide free water testing and filters to remove lead to anyone who has galvanized pipes (service lines) with a possible lead solder connection. Blood tests are also available to test for lead.

In his agenda report Hibl said, “The City has offered to test the water of any and all of our water customers; to date we’ve received 55 requests and have commenced testing. We’ve also offered to provide water filters to any customer who has a galvanized service line; we’ve issued 45 filters thus far.”

About 200 water filters have already been distributed, Onan said.

He said families who are concerned or who have children should use a filter. He said they will do sampling above what is required to find out where lead could be coming from and will provide information to property owners. For those concerned about the possibility of lead in their water, he recommended flushing water for a few seconds or showering before consumption, especially in the morning, and recommended cleaning faucet aerators every six months.. He also said not to use hot water for drinking or cooking.

The City is also testing throughout the system. Kingsbury said the City will replace all galvanized service lines and hopes to have that done by the end of 2020, although the state allows municipalities up to 15 years to replace lines. He also said the four lead service lines, which includes the two with high lead levels, will be replaced by the end of this year.

Resident Shirley Franko and her husband had questions about lead leaching back into the City’s water supply from residences. She was assured that the water flows from the mains to the homes and that it was unlikely lead would flow back into the mains. Even if it did, Onan said, it would be diluted to undetectable levels by the much larger amount of water in the mains.

Following the public hearing audience members who still had questions or concerns were encouraged to meet with the officials in another room and the City Commission continued with other business.

Treasurer Steven Kingsbury reported that he attended a meeting of the Little Tobacco Intercounty Drain Board. He said the board had approved an order revising the drainage district with a slight expansion; discussed the project design which is close to being finalized; discussed the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management) grant for the purchase of properties; and authorized consolidating two temporary financing into a single one with an extension of maturity to October next year to coincide with issuing the bond for the entire project.

In his written report to the board City Manager Ken Hibl said the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board has recommended that the City abandon the Maple Street Rec Park across from the DPW garage as it gets very little use, and move the playground equipment to Pettit Park
Other business at the regular meeting included:

*Approved an amendment to the Water Bond Ordinance to increase the reserved funding for the project, required by the United States Department of Agriculture loan/bond. The bond totals $1,497,000.

*Tabled for further discussion a proposal by Gourdie-Fraser Engineering to create engineering plans and submit a permit application, as required by the Michigan Department of Transportation for new sidewalks along McEwan Street on the south side of the City and the Emerald Isle Recreation Complex.

*Approved the adoption of a ethics ordinance for City employees.

*Approved a resolution for a charitable games license for the Clare Wrestling Club for fund-raising.

*Approved the payment of bills totaling $184,429.42.

Share This Post

Error, no group ID set! Check your syntax!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *