When the topic of lead comes up, Flint, Michigan may be the first community to spring to mind, but Flint isn’t the only one challenged with lead in the public water supply. Water systems across all fifty states have tested positive for lead contamination that threatens the health of those who drink it, especially young children and pregnant women. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is no safe level of lead, particularly for children. While Wisconsin communities have done a good job of providing safe water, communities can use new legislation to further improve safety.
In response to the tragedies in the news, Wisconsin passed legislation to facilitate replacing lead pipes. 2017 Act 137 permits water utilities to provide grants, loans, or both to property owners to help them replace their water-service lines if they contain lead. Up to half of the cost can be covered by grant money. The utility can recover the cost of the grants and loans by using revenue collected from its customers.
This program makes it much easier for residents to replace the water lines on their properties at the same time as the utilities replace the connecting public water lines. If property owners don’t replace their lead lines on the private property side, but the utilities replace the section in the public right-of-way, lead levels may actually rise at least temporarily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is because replacing a section of the pipe disturbs the connecting portion. With this program, utilities can vastly increase owner participation and eliminate lead from much more of the system than they otherwise could.
The utility must apply to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to offer grants and loans. These applications must include descriptions of the program, the method for funding these grants and loans, and the customers who would be able to take advantage of the program.
R/M would be happy to help your utility navigate the application process so that your community, especially the children, can benefit from safer drinking water. Contact an expert today to learn more.
About the Author
Edward F. Maxwell
Edward joined Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M) in 2017 as a financial analyst. Before joining R/M, he worked in private-sector finance, analyzing capital investments, forecasting expenses and revenue, and crafting department budgets. At R/M, he creates financial solutions for all clients, from municipalities to corporate businesses.