Westland digs up water lines over lead contamination concerns

- A whistleblower sounded the alarm about lead contamination risks possibly lurking in Westland.

He said crews were ordered to cover up lead water pipes still in use and residents are worried about what's in their water.

The city is taking the allegations seriously, dispatching crews to dig up the service lines in question.

Mayor of Westland William Wild says he's doing everything he can to put the people's minds at ease, who are concerned about the safety of their water.

"In light of the Flint water crisis, residents not just in Westland but all across Michigan and the nation are just so hypersensitive to lead," said Mayor William Wild, City of Westland. "I think all the work we are doing here is to make sure our residents feel comfortable."

A long-time Westland public service worker, who no longer works for the department, went public with allegations earlier this week of a couple instances of improper sewage disposal and neglect by the city to replace some of its lead water pipes.

City workers are digging up 11 yards where Frank Raymore claimed some lead pipes remain that should’ve replaced a while ago.

"There was an allegation that three houses where the lines once identified were buried, we've been able to go through those," Wild said. "Two of those were changed out shortly thereafter to copper."

Wild says plenty of cities still use lead pipes, and they are not necessarily dangerous. But they are supposed to be phased out and replaced over time as funding allows.

"Right now we are updating water pumps, we are lining sewers, we are putting in new water meters," Wild said. "That has a cost."

Charles Potter lives on Christine in Westland, an older part of the city where the pipes are being excavated so the city can get an accurate count of how many lead pipes are left.

The mayor says the city's records are not entirely up to date.

"The last water break we had on the street, we had small particles in the water," Potter said. "Also the water had a really weird smell to it. Our trust is gone right now."

Of the five excavations done so far, one city lead line was found and will be replaced.

The mayor will also be pushing for free water test kits to be distributed at an emergency City Hall meeting Monday night at 7 p.m.

"We're going to talk about what we found at these excavation sites," Wild said. "We're also going to have experts on behalf of the Great Lakes Water Authority on hand to answer any questions."

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