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If it's not broke, don't spend money fixing it

• Mar 11, 2019 at 12:00 PM

There’s a lot going on in the city of Grand Haven these days.

City leaders are discussing possible upgrades to a few parks. They’re trying to figure out what to do with the vacant space in the old train depot building. They’re brainstorming ways to pay for several big infrastructure projects that never seem to go away. They’re constantly working on the ever-growing problem of affordable housing and how to find that balance.

With a lot of real problems, we don’t need to create new ones.

But that’s exactly what’s happened, thanks to former Gov. Rick Snyder.

On his way out of office, Snyder introduced legislation that required every city to test for lead in its water pipes, and if those pipes showed even a trace of lead, they needed to be replaced, at great cost to both the municipality and the homeowner.

On the surface, that sounds great. We all know what happened in Flint, and nobody wants that to happen in their backyard.

But, on closer inspection, there are issues with Snyder’s well-intentioned plan. Many pipes contain trace amounts of lead; lead has long been popular in making pipes because it's stable and easily malleable. The only problem is that it's also poisonous.

Water can flow through pipes containing lead without issue. It becomes an issue when the water pressure is greatly increased, or when untreated water is pumped through the pipes, causing them to corrode.

Here in Grand Haven, our water is tested religiously, and we don’t have lead in our water.

Mayor Geri McCaleb ruffled a few feathers when she was quoted as saying, “It’s like fixing something that’s not broken when we have a lot of other things that need to be fixed.”

The mayor isn’t saying that lead in our water isn’t a serious issue — clearly, it is. What she’s saying is that, at this point, Grand Haven doesn’t have a problem with lead in its water, so why create one?

We tend to agree with her.

There are enough issues for our local leaders to be burdened with, and enough projects demanding our tax dollars, without using scare tactics from what happened in Flint to create a crisis that doesn’t exist here.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Mark Brooky, Duncan MacLean and Alexander Sinn. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

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