Lansing, Michigan has succeeded in replacing all of it’s 12,500 lead pipes. This large project has come at a high cost for the utility, but with careful investment, it has become a very manageable cost.
The city has succeeded in avoiding problems that have arisen in other areas of the state of Michigan by thinking ahead and realizing that replacing old water infrastructure is crucial and necessary.
“The $44.5 million project was a response to reports of excessive lead levels in major U.S. cities. The Lansing project serves as testimony that maintaining or replacing municipal water systems should not be considered a luxury, but rather a duty to the public’s well-being…
…As local municipalities struggle to fund so many pressing needs, the ones that are buried may be easiest to set aside for another year. However, foregoing infrastructure maintenance and replacement in favor of more politically popular budget items is a dangerous practice that may result in much higher costs to the community if the infrastructure fails.
In every water system, the challenge is the same: Ensure that rates water customers pay are adequate to cover the cost of annual operation, maintenance, and repair in addition to future capital needs.”
The team at Lansing believe that raising rates, even though people will initially not look favorably on it, is necessary to offset the cost of maintenance and repair.
If an investment is not made into water infrastructure systems, then consumers can expect to see a plunge in levels of service.
It could eventuate in a state where there are more and more days without drinkable water and more system failures.
The prudent investment approach Lansing has adopted provides a good example to other municipalities.
The replacement of old and problematic pipes has allowed the City of Lansing to manage its service delivery risks, and to complete its replacement project in a structured, planned and cost-effective water utility infrastructure management, rather than a high-cost emergency replacement.