Lead pipe concerns lead to complaints at Coldwater BPU

The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities found itself in the throes of comments and complaints in a brief City Council meeting Monday night.

Unsuccessful 2019 mayoral candidate and 2018 city council candidate Dan Corwin responded to a $3 million state grant to replace lead water plumbing that begins next month.

Corwin told the council: “I would ask that the public be informed in any dwelling or commercial building where there is lead piped water service. (That) they will receive written notice so that they can make a personal decision as to whether or not they want their children and their families to use the water that comes through the lead pipes.”

Brian Musselman, the CBPU’s water, water resources reclamation plant and telecommunications superintendent, said the city couldn’t be sure who had leading connections. When road construction began this summer, “we had an estimate at the beginning. There were 12,140,” he said.

The city is working on water and sewage connections when roads are cleared for paving to save on future digging.

“We just did Perkins Street,” Musselman said. “We had five lines there that were listed as lead. They were made of copper.”

The only way to tell if a water main has a pipe connection to the main is to open up the street and look at it. The grant gives the city until 2025 to complete its work under the grant.

Annual water system tests took place this summer with no service reporting above-limit lead levels. Since 2014, Coldwater’s lead and copper test results have been well below the action threshold.


“We’re offering to take part in the testing for anyone who wants to have their water tested,” Musselman said. “We like to take it during the trial period in the summer. It lasts about two weeks. We need 30 people to participate.”

Lead became a problem after Flint and Benton Harbor raised pH levels in their water systems and leached lead into drinking water. That is not the case in Coldwater. CBPU began adding inhibitors in 1999 to prevent lead and metal leaching.

The city will review the water system at Fairview Estates at 260 East Garfield. One couple complained that their water looked dirty when they used the washing machine or the tap.

“It’s basically a separate system,” Musselman said. “Once it leaves our meter, it’s their own pipeline in the ground. We will check it for you.”

He sent a crew Tuesday afternoon to look at the problem. CBPU Director Paul Jakubczak spoke to them after the meeting.

Corwin complained of a sewage odor at his Fourth Precinct home, about a quarter mile from the sewage treatment plant.

Musselman said, “We offered to take him on a tour of the treatment plant the last time he complained about the smell, the smells.”

The only open part of the system, a large concrete block support structure near Jay Street, allows the city to control feed into the plant during periods of high flow.

Musselman said there is a system that sprays Febreze over and into the tank to control odor.

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