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Is Grand Rapids water safe to drink?

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Grand Rapids skyline with city logo

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As the national spotlight remains focused on Flint, officials in Grand Rapids are hoping to calm fears when it comes to the city’s water.

According to Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong, if you live in the Grand Rapids area, your water is completely safe to drink.

We’re told the water is piped in directly from Lake Michigan, treated in West Olive, then sent to Grand Rapids through service lines and constantly monitored along the way. “We do that by monitoring the residual chlorine level so it’s chlorinated,” said Grand Rapids Water System Manager Joellen Thompson. “We do testing daily, quarterly, annually and otherwise required to make sure we have really good water.”

There are 80,000 service lines total in the system, and approximately 17,000 of those are lead service lines. And the city says you shouldn’t worry.

“The pipes have been thoroughly coated, and there is no lead or a little lead leaching into anyone’s water. It’s well below the required standard,” DeLong said, adding the city’s lead and copper program is based on feeding a phosphate compound at small rates. “What that does, is provides a coating in the pipe, because the pipe is coated that means the lead can’t come out.”

According to the most recent Grand Rapids water quality report, lead levels were far below the safe standard of 15 parts per billion.

Despite the good news, the city continues to test, sample, and treat our water to ensure what happened in Flint won’t happen here.

“We make sure we’re doing it correctly,” DeLong said. “We make sure we meet the testing requirements and achieve the right results. We’re in a different spot [than Flint]: we’ve been in the utility business for a very long time and have produced outstanding results for a very long time.”

Meanwhile, the Kent County Health Department plans to install new equipment next week to start testing water for lead. County officials hope the new equipment, costing upwards of $40,000, will be up and running by the middle of February.

In addition to testing for lead, the county tests water for nitrate, nitrite, iron, fluoride and e-coli.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your water, call Grand Rapids Customer Service at 3-1-1.

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8 comments

    • Andrew

      True. Ever look into the mouth of an old NW-sider who were the first “victims” of the flouridation program? Not a tooth in their head, and frequent cognitive issues consistent with flouride poisoning. Has the city acknowledged this? Have they even looked into it? No, they haven’t. They don’t want to know. Because if they don’t know, they don’t have to do anything about it.

      And they act all suprised when the public is unwilling to extend trust to them over water issues.

  • Ron Eheman

    HFSA, a liquid, contains significant amounts of arsenic (As). HFSA and NaSF have been shown to leach lead (Pb) from water delivery plumbing, while NaF has been shown not to do so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) health-based drinking water standards for As and Pb are zero

    • Andrew

      An excellent point, Ron.
      Who is defining “safe”, and what do they mean by it?
      Do we want that word to be relative when it comes to our drinking water, or do we want it to be absolute?

  • Andrew

    The answer to the question is “We don’t actually know.”
    The county has never tested for lead, and won’t start until next week.
    The city…well, we all know about city water and the decades-old mantra that they keep chanting.
    The question of whether our water is safe to drink is really the wrong question anyway.
    The right question is whether we trust what the city tells us about how safe the water is.
    Given the level of corruption our city government embraces, I do not think that public trust, especially over something this important, is an asset which they have earned.

    Maybe it is safe, and maybe it isn’t.
    Would you trust Sundstrom to tell you if it wasn’t?
    Me neither.