In January of 2019, the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act announced new water sampling requirements to better detect possible lead in drinking water. These changes require all communities with lead service lines and older housing stock to perform more-rigorous water sampling than has been done in the past, including increasing the number of sampling locations and the samples taken from each location. Prior to 2019, the City of Ferndale—and other cities like ours—were required to test water from five properties with lead service lines annually; we are now required to test 30. This new sampling method has resulted in higher lead results for some communities—not because the water source or quality has changed, but because of the stricter sampling procedures.
During the 2020 monitoring period, Ferndale’s Department of Public Works (DPW) collected samples from 31 properties with known lead service lines. Of these 31 properties, five were found to have 90th percentile lead concentration levels above the 15ppb (parts per billion) Action Level established by the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. This Action Level is not a health-based standard, but rather a level that triggers the need for additional actions, such as increased sampling. The City’s 90th percentile value was 30 ppb.
It is important to understand that Ferndale’s water source and quality has not changed. The Action Level exceedance is a result of more-rigorous sampling procedures, and impacts only those properties with lead service lines, also known as the pipes that connect a home to the city’s water main. Ferndale has a total of 10,031 service line connections with an estimated 30%, or approximately 3,000,constructed with lead or lead-containing materials.
In response to these results, the City will increase both the frequency of monitoring and the number of sites tested. This additional information will provide important data for state and city officials to determine what additional actions may be required to bring the 90th percentile value below 15ppb.
Additionally, in accordance with the state rules, we've been working on a plan to identify and inventory service lines throughout the City. Within the next six months, the City will begin replacing 7% of our lead service lines per year until all have been updated. We'll be communicating about this more thoroughly in the coming months with guidance from the State of Michigan and EGLE.
In the coming weeks, the City of Ferndale will be providing additional educational resources as part of a comprehensive public education campaign. Additional information regarding the new regulations and lead safety can be found on the EGLE website.
The City has launched an interactive GIS map that allows residents to search properties by address or parcel number to gain information about the material(s) of the home's pipe connection.
If your results are not available using the map, or if you want to verify your materials, the City has launched an online form to help you do so.
You'll be walked through several steps, including using a simple online testing process, taking and uploading a photo of your water meter, and answering several questions about your home and circumstances. The Department of Public Works will review your information and contact you with information about your home's water infrastructure.
State Certified Labs
Gov. Whitmer and state officials discuss changes to the Michigan Safe Water Drinking Act
Oakland County Health Division
Download a flier from the Oakland Co. Health Division to help determine if you are eligible for a filter from the state.
Oakland County Health Division Laboratory Drinking Water Analysis
Bottles can be purchased from one of the County office locations during normal business hours. Their address and phone numbers are:
Prices are as follows:
The Nurse on Call (NOC) hotline offers information about health and related resources. Calls are answered by Oakland County Health Division Public Health Nurses Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Contact NOC by calling 800-848-5533 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes. Ferndale’s water is the same; it comes from the same source and the quality remains at- or above-standard. The Action Level exceedance is a result of more-rigorous sampling procedures, and impacts only those properties with lead service lines. Lead can enter drinking water when in contact with older, lead-based pipes, solder, interior plumbing, and fittings and fixtures, particularly when water has remained stagnant for extended periods of time. Properties with lead service lines have an increased risk of these issues.
The recent lead issues are because of a significant increase in the required water sampling from properties with lead service lines. Prior to 2019, cities were required to test water from five properties with lead service lines annually; we are now required to test 30. This new sampling method has resulted in higher lead results for many communities—not because the water source or quality has changed, but because of the more-rigorous sampling procedures. Nothing has changed with the City’s water source or quality.
The best way to tell for sure is to have a plumber provide a quick inspection. Other ways to identify your water line materials:
Michigan cities must have a 90th percentile lead level below the State's Action Level, which means that the concentration of lead must be less than or equal to the Action Level of 15 pbb in at least 90% of the samples collected.
Although the results are site-specific and lead levels will vary between homes, there are several recommended actions you can take to reduce your exposure to lead.
Free water filters are available (in the form of a pitcher or faucet-added filter) to qualifying homes by Oakland County and the State of Michigan. To qualify, you must
The City will host a drive-through water filter distribution event at the Kulick Center on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 3-6 p.m. Following that, filters will be available by calling DPW at 248-546-2519.
The Department of Public Works will begin the process of replacing the city's lead service lines by early 2021. More specific timelines and information will be available in the coming months.
Contact the Department of Public Works Deputy Director, Dan Antosik, at 248-546-2519.
View a comprehensive list of the permits you can apply for in Ferndale.