Ann Arbor City Council to provide lead water pipe information after FOIA request

As the result of a unanimous vote by the Ann Arbor City Council at a recent meeting, the City now has to disclose information regarding where lead materials have been used in the Ann Arbor water system.

At last Monday’s meeting, councilmembers gave city staff until the end of the year to produce the information, which identifies places where some homeowners may be exposed lead contamination and need to replace their water service lines. The decision follows a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Ann Arbor News and MLive. The city originally asked for a payment of $667.94 for copies of the records, but at the meeting last Monday, the council voted to waive the fee.

City Councilmember Jack Eaton, D-Ward 4, said it was important to waive the costs given the funding constraints of local media outlets.

“I think that all of us are aware of the dire economic circumstances of local media,” Eaton said. “Newspapers are struggling to survive in small communities like this, and it’s so essential that a community like ours have a good, healthy paper. We shouldn’t burden our local newspaper unnecessarily.”

Eaton also noted the state law regarding public documents favored disclosure, adding the city itself sometimes struggled to disseminate information.

“Any opportunity that we have, we should cooperate with the local media in their attempts to take city information and digest it and disseminate it to the public, and this is that kind of circumstance,” Eaton said. “This particular Freedom of Information Act request asked for the location of everywhere in the city that the city has removed lead gooseneck connections from the water main to the home’s supply line, and it also asks for the location of every home that has galvanized pipe from the water main at the street to the house.” (Read more…)