City of Saginaw MI -
Lead Service Lines FAQs

Lead and Copper Video

Lead and Copper Rule – Frequently Asked Questions

  • Lead has been used by humans for centuries in products like paint, batteries, gasoline, and plumbing. While it has many beneficial uses, Congress began to pass laws banning the use of lead in certain materials such as lead-based paint (1978) and leaded gasoline (1986) when the negative health effects began to be understood.
  • Potential health effects of lead:

  • Pregnant women and children 6 years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead.
  • In children, lead can cause impaired mental development, behavioral disorders, lower IQ, hyperactivity, hearing problems, and anemia.
  • In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause mental fog.
  • In pregnant women, lead can reduce fetus growth, cause stillbirth and premature birth.
  • Potential health effects of copper:

  • In children, copper can cause stomach distress.
  • In adults, chronic exposure to copper can cause liver disease.
  • Lead and copper mainly enter drinking water from the corrosion of plumbing materials that contain lead or copper.
  • Corrosion is a chemical process that deteriorates certain materials, most commonly metals.
  • Common sources of lead in drinking water are illustrated in the image below.

  • In general, older homes are more likely to contain some kind of lead plumbing. Even if your home was built more recently, lead fixtures and components may be present in your home. To find out if your home’s plumbing is lead-free, you can refer to the Environmental Protection Agency’s brochure "How to Identify Lead Free Certification Marks for Drinking Water System & Plumbing Products" When replacing your plumbing, be sure to purchase pieces that meet the 2014 lead-free definition.
  • The underground service lines to your home may also contain lead. The City of Saginaw is currently developing a preliminary distribution system inventory of service line materials utilizing the best available records.
  • Flush your pipes before drinking or cooking with water. The longer the water sits in the pipes, the more lead it may contain. To do this, let the cold water run for 5-30 seconds. If the pipes have not been used in the last six hours or longer, let the cold water run for at least two minutes or the water is consistently colder. The colder water is an indication of water coming from the distribution main.
  • If you have moved into a new home that has been unoccupied for some time, run the cold water on all faucets for five minutes or more. [4]
  • Remove and clean the aerators (screens) on your faucets at least once a month to avoid lead build-up.

  • If you have a water filter, check to see if it is certified for lead removal by calling NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or visit their website at Follow the manufacturer's recommendation for filter maintenance.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead; this will actually concentrate the levels of lead in water.
  • Only use cold tap water for drinking and cooking, especially for preparing infant formula.
  • Learn more about your drinking water supply. Read the City of Saginaw’s Consumer Confidence Report that is mailed to you each year and can also be found at the City of Saginaw’s website under the Water Treatment section.

  • In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule (also referred to as the LCR). All community water supplies are subject to the LCR requirements. Since 1991, the LCR has undergone various revisions. The City of Saginaw has been complying with the Lead and Copper Rule since it was put in place in 1991.
  • The EPA works with state governments to enforce the Lead and Copper Rule. Each state or individual communities may put more stringent regulations in place, or they may use the regulations set by the EPA.
  • In June 2018, Michigan revised its Lead and Copper Rule so that it now has the strictest lead and copper requirements in the country. Some of the new requirements that Michigan community water supplies must enforce in the coming years include:
  • Established lead action level is reduced from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 12 ppb, effective 2025.
  • Required increased sampling.
  • Increased communication and public outreach.
  • Communities must complete a materials inventory for their water distribution system. This means they will investigate all the service lines in their system to determine if lead is present.
  • Utilities must replace all water service lines that contain lead or are galvanized that are or were ever connected to lead piping.
  • "Even if your community has a water system with effective corrosion control and low drinking water lead levels, lead service lines (LSLs) can contribute unpredictable and variable sources of exposure. For homes with LSLs, the service line typically contributes the greatest percentage of lead to the tap. Lead particulates from an LSL or galvanized service line that is or was connected to lead piping, may enter directly into the water people drink or become trapped in the faucet aerator and release lead over time. With the reduction of lead in new plumbing material, the next large opportunity for reducing the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water is the removal of LSLs." [3] Note: Regular flushing of the water after periods of stagnation as well as regularly removing and cleaning of aerators is an important action you can take to reduce your lead exposure. Even without a lead service line the practice outlined above is recommended to improve water quality.
  • What is a service line?

  • "Service Line" refers to the pipe that runs from the water main through your property and connects to the plumbing in your house. Click here to see the image.

  • "Lead Service Line" means a service line that is made of lead or any lead pigtail, lead gooseneck, or other lead fitting that is connected to the service line, or both.

  • Full service line replacement means the City will remove and/or replace the service line from the water main up to the house. (Replacements will not include any plumbing inside your home.)
  • Partial lead service line (LSL) replacement is no longer allowed except in emergencies. Work on private property will require that the homeowner sign consent forms before any work commences. Removing and replacing only a portion of LSLs poses a health risk since construction activities increase exposure to lead. When the ground is disturbed close to your home, the disturbance could cause particles to shake free from inside the network of underground pipes and affect your drinking water quality.
  • You will be contacted by the City if this work is required on your property.
  • In order to visually inspect the material of the service line or in cases where the entire service line needs to be removed and replaced, City employees will have to be present on private property. They will also need access to the home to inspect the water meter, which is typically located in the basement, and/or complete the service installation. If the City does require access to your property or home, they will notify you in advance and coordinate their work with you.

  • The City of Saginaw will perform a two-part investigation to determine water service line materials. First, the City is currently reviewing records from water service line construction that contain information about the material, location, and dimensions of installed services. This information will form the preliminary distribution system materials inventory, which must be submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) by January 1, 2020. The City has limited information on service extension materials on private property because prior to 2018 the homeowner was responsible for replacing the part of the service line on private property.

    Next, the City will perform onsite investigations to visually inspect service line materials. The City will also need to access your home to determine material type before and after the meter. This may require excavation in certain areas to visually inspect the service line material. This is especially important in areas that are more likely to contain lead services, or on properties for which no construction records exist. This information will be added/or updated to the preliminary inventory to form a complete distribution system materials inventory, which will be submitted to the MDEQ by January 1, 2025. A comprehensive update of the materials inventory will be submitted to State of Michigan every five years.

    Currently the City is replacing known lead and galvanized service lines in areas where construction projects are planned. In addition, the City is replacing lead and galvanized lines as leaks are discovered. Once the City of Saginaw has compiled the preliminary distribution system materials inventory, they will establish a program and schedule for the replacement of all lead and galvanized service lines as required by the Lead and Copper Rule. This schedule will span 20 years or more and be coordinated with other road, water, and sewer improvements and replacements to provide for the most efficient use of the City’s limited resources.

    In 2018, the City applied for and received a $963,000 grant to begin implementation of the new State of Michigan Lead and Copper Rules. As part of the grant the City is:

  • Developing a preliminary inventory of service line materials based on the construction permit records.
  • Creating a data collection app for City personnel to use during the physical verification of service line materials. This app will update the GIS information for continued analysis and public information.
  • Investigating construction methods to determine the most efficient means for verifying service materials and actual service line replacement options.
  • Replacing lead and galvanized service lines as part of the Bay Street Improvements Project during the 2018 construction season.
  • Replaceing lead and galvanized service lines of any emergency repair situations.
  • Creating standard forms and public education materials related to the LCR and service line replacements.

  • The following sources were used in the development of these FAQ’s and can be used for additional information:


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