Notice to Residents – Drinking Water Info



 Public Notice (PDF)  |  Tips to Reduce Exposure  |  Customer Q&A  |  Additional Public Education Info  

The City of Three Rivers has a continued lead action level exceedance for its drinking water system.  The City announced their first lead action level exceedance on August 3, 2023.  The lead action level exceedance means that locations within our drinking water system have lead test results over 15 parts per billion (ppb), which is the EPA drinking water Action Level.  Tests collected between July and December 2023 also had results above 15 ppb.

The City of Three Rivers continued sampling known lead service lines in our second round of collecting a 1st and 5th liter sample from 45 sampling locations between July and December 2023. Five homes had results over 15 parts per billion (ppb).

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) evaluates compliance with the Action Level based on the 90th percentile of lead and copper results collected in each round of sampling.  The lead 90th percentile for the City’s water supply is 16 ppb, which exceeds the Action Level of 15 ppb.

The “Action Level” is a measure of corrosion control effectiveness; it is not a health-based standard. The goal for lead in drinking water is 0 ppb; there is no safe level of lead in the blood.

An “Action Level Exceedance” means that more than 10% of the homes tested have

results over 15 ppb. The exceedance triggers additional actions including educational outreach to customers, ongoing sampling every six months, assessing the corrosivity of the water, and service line replacement.

Lead can enter drinking water when in contact with pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain lead. Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Therefore, if your water has not been used for several hours, run the water before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes. Additional flushing may be required for homes that have been vacant or have a longer service line.

Public Announcement (PDF)

Joe Bippus, City Manager: 269-273-1075

Amy Roth, Public Services Director: 269-273-1845


Tips to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water

  • Run your water to flush out lead-containing water.
    • If you do not have a lead service line, run the water for 30 seconds to two minutes, or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature.
    • If you do have a lead service line, run the water for at least five minutes to flush water from your home or building’s plumbing and the lead service line.
  • Everyone can consider using a filter to reduce lead in drinking water.  The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recommends every household use a certified lead filter to reduce lead from their drinking water, especially households with a child, or a child that frequently visits the home, pregnant person, or individual with high blood pressure, or people residing in houses built before 1987. MDHHS also recommends making baby formula or cooking with filtered water.
    • Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction and NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate reduction (Class I).
    • For filters to work properly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • UPDATE (8/4/23):  MDHHS recommends that residents need new filters six (6) months after the initial filter distribution.  After that, MDHHS estimates residents will need to receive and replace filter cartridges roughly every four (4) months.
    • MDHHS is offering free certified lead-reducing filters and replacement cartridges to eligible households.  Eligibility criteria are:
      • A child under 18 or a pregnant person lives in the home, or a child frequently visits the home, and
      • A member of the household is enrolled in Medicaid or WIC, or the household is unable to afford a filter.
    • Filters can be obtained at:
      City of Three Rivers
      Department of Public Services
      1015 S. Lincoln Avenue
      Three Rivers, MI
      Phone: 269-273-1845
      Hours:  M-F 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

      City of Three Rivers
      City Hall
      333 W. Michigan Ave.
      Three Rivers, MI
      Phone: 269-273-1075
      Hours:  M, W-F 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
      Tue. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

      Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph
      Community Health Agency
      1110 Hill Street
      Three Rivers, MI
      Phone: 269-273-2161
      Hours:  M-F 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.


  • Do not use hot water for drinking, preparing food, or cooking, or preparing or preparing baby formula.
  • Do not boil your water as boiling will not reduce the amount of lead in water.
  • Clean your faucet aerator to remove trapped debris.
  • Check whether your home has a lead service line. Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water.

City of Three Rivers will soon send a comprehensive public education document about lead in drinking water. We will be collecting at least forty (40) samples every six months and reviewing the results to determine if corrective actions are necessary to reduce corrosion in household plumbing.

If you are a City of Three Rivers water customer and would like your service line inspected or would like to learn about testing your water for lead, contact the City of Three Rivers Department of Public Services at 269-273-1845 or visit for a list of certified labs.

If you are operating a food establishment such as a store, restaurant, bar, or food manufacturing establishment please visit this page for specific information for food firms.

Additional information regarding lead can be found at City of Three Rivers’ website or at EGLE and MDHHS websites: or

Additional Public Education Information


Public Education Information (PDF)

Health Effects of Lead.  Lead can cause serious health and development problems. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development. Although other sources of lead exposure exist, such as lead paint, and lead contaminated dust, City of Three Rivers is contacting you to reduce your risk of exposure to lead in drinking water. If you have questions about other sources of lead exposure, please contact Branch Hillsdale St. Joseph Community Health Agency at 269-273-2161.

Sources of Lead.  Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure due to the widespread use of lead in plumbing materials. EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person’s potential exposure to lead. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 percent to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.

The action level is 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1.3 parts per million (ppm) for copper. The action level is a measure of corrosion control effectiveness. It is not a health-based standard. To meet the requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule, 90 percent of the samples collected must be below the action level. The following table summarizes the lead and copper data collected during the most recent monitoring period:

Most Recent Sampling Information:

Action Levels

90th Percentile Value

Range of results

# of samples used for 90th Percentile

Lead 15 parts per billion (ppb)

16 ppb

0 – 32 ppb


Copper 1.3 parts per million (ppm)

0.4 ppm

0 – 0.8 ppm


Lead can enter drinking water when pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain lead corrode. Corrosion is the dissolving, or wearing away, of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Several factors affect the amount of lead that enters the water, including the water quality characteristics (acidity and alkalinity), the amount of lead in the pipes, plumbing and/or fixtures, and the frequency of water use in the home.

Some plumbing products such as service lines, pipes and fixtures may contain lead. The infographic below demonstrates where sources of lead in drinking water could be in your home. Older homes may have more lead unless the service line and/or plumbing has been replaced.  Homes built…

  • Before the 1960s are more likely to have lead service lines, lead pipes, fixtures, and/or solder that contain lead.
  • Before 1988 are likely to have fixtures and/or solder that contains lead.
  • Between 1996 and 2014 are likely to have fixtures that contain up to eight percent lead but were labelled “lead-free.”
  • In 2014 or later still have potential lead exposure. “Lead free” was redefined to reduce lead content to a maximum of 0.25 percent lead in fixtures and fittings. Fixtures that are certified to meet NSF Standard 61 meet this more restrictive definition of “lead free.”

Leaded solder and leaded fittings and fixtures are still available in stores to use for non-drinking water applications.  Be careful to select the appropriate products for repairing or replacing drinking water plumbing in your home.

Galvanized plumbing can be a potential source of lead.  Galvanized plumbing can absorb lead from upstream sources like a lead service line.  Even after the lead service line has been removed, galvanized plumbing can continue to release lead into drinking water over time. Homes that are served by a lead service line should consider replacing galvanized plumbing inside the home.

Drinking water is only one source of lead exposure.  Other common sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated dust or soil. Because lead can be carried on hands, clothing, and/or shoes, sources of exposure to lead can include the workplace and certain hobbies. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come in contact with dirt and dust containing lead.  In addition, lead can be found in certain types of pottery, pewter, food, and cosmetics. If you have questions about other sources of lead exposure, please contact Branch Hillsdale St. Joseph Community Health Agency at 269-273-2161.

Particulate Lead.  Lead results can vary between tests.  A single test result is not a reliable indicator of drinking water safety. Two different types of lead can be present in drinking water, soluble lead and particulate lead. Soluble lead is lead that dissolves because of a chemical reaction between water and plumbing that contains lead. Particulate lead is dislodged scale and sediment released into the water from the sides of the plumbing and can vary greatly between samples. Disturbances, such as replacing a water meter, construction and excavation activities, or home plumbing repairs can cause particulates to shake free from inside pipes and plumbing. Particulate lead is a concern because the lead content can be very high. Lead particulate could be present in a single glass of water, but not present in water sampled just before or after. During construction, monthly aerator cleaning and using a filter certified to reduce lead are recommended to reduce particulate lead exposure.

Check whether your home has a lead service line.  Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. Please contact City of Three Rivers for more information about your home’s service line.

Posted February 9, 2024
Last updated March 5, 2024



Additional Resources:

For the City’s annual water quality reports, click here.

 Lead Education

 Lead in Drinking Water