States have three critical roles in helping communities replace lead service lines (LSLs) by:
- Ensuring compliance with the safe drinking water rules, including the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR).
- Educating communities, utilities, and the public on health risks posed by lead; the benefits and challenges of replacing LSLs; and, hopefully, the resources offered by EPA and the LSL Replacement Collaborative.
- Establishing policies that enable or direct communities and utilities to fully replace LSLs.
Regarding the third role, EDF recognizes proactive state policies that support community LSL replacement programs. The table below provides a summary of proactive state policies. Follow the links for more details.
State policies supporting community LSL replacement programs
Table displays best in landscape mode
|State||Estimate of LSLs1||Set goal||Enable funding2||Develop state inventory/survey3||Mandate replacement practices||Require disclosure
|California||65,000||--||--||Mandatory (Limited inventory)5||--||Limited|
|Illinois||415,000 to 1.92 million||--||--||Mandatory||Yes||Good|
|Indiana||206,000 to 599,000||--||Rates and loans||Voluntary (Full survey)||--||Limited|
|Louisiana||56,000||--||--||Voluntary (Limited survey)||--||Limited|
|Massachusetts||220,000||--||Loans||Voluntary (Full survey)||--||None|
|Michigan||460,000||Yes||Rates||Mandatory (Full survey)||Yes||Good|
|New Jersey||350,000||--||Rates and loans||--||--||Voluntary|
|New York||360,000||--||Grants||--||--||Very good|
|North Carolina||82,000||--||--||Voluntary (Limited survey)||--||Good|
|Ohio||650,000||--||--||Mandatory (Limited inventory)||--||Limited|
|Washington||<5,500||Yes||Loans||Voluntary (Limited survey)||--||Limited|
|Wisconsin||240,000||--||Rates and grants||Mandatory (Full inventory)||--||Good|
Full description of proactive state policies
For each state, we describe their progress on the following five areas, based on publicly available information: setting a statewide goal, providing funding, developing inventories and posting online maps of LSL locations, establishing standards for replacement practices, and requiring disclosure to homebuyers. When referring to ownership of the service line, we use the state's language. We focus the descriptions on Community Water Systems (CWSs) - the public water systems supplying water to the same population year-round.
Primary agency webpage: State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board)
In September 2016, the California State Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown enacted SB1398 and committed the state to replacing all LSLs, including lead goosenecks*, in the state between the water main under the street and the meter. The Mandate does not apply to the portion of the LSL between the meter and the home or building. In 2018, the Assembly enacted SB427 limiting the requirement to the State's 7,500 CWSs and removing the requirement that the water system comply with the Water Board's revised timeline if a compromise cannot be reached.
Under the law, CWSs must identify and replace LSLs and complete work on a "schedule that is commensurate with the risks and costs involved." The CWSs must submit the following to the Water Board:
- By July 2018, an inventory of known LSLs and a timeline for their replacement; and
- By July 2020, an updated inventory of LSLs and a timeline to replace any service lines made of lead.
The Water Board has 30 days to approve the submission or propose a revised timeline. Then the parties have 30 days to agree to a compromised timeline. The state provides a web portal with FAQs for submission.
This two-step approach makes replacing known LSLs the highest priority and, by essentially presuming that a service line is lead unless known otherwise, also creates an incentive for CWSs to develop accurate inventories in the next three years. However, the program would not apply to the portion of the service line between the meter and the house, which is referred to as the "customer side." The Water Board acknowledges that this may result in partial, but not full, replacement of the LSL and "highly recommends" that the CWS notify the customer, and if possible, assist in the replacement. This definition also means that a CWS could report it has no LSLs, even if there are lead pipes on the customer side.
In December 2018, the Water Board released the results of the first round of CWS reporting in an interactive map and posted a new webpage providing background for customers on the inventory requirement. See EDF's blog describing the map and press release for more information.
In addition, California requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers any environmental hazards that they may be aware of. A lead pipe is not one of the examples provided. Therefore, a seller may not consider an LSL to be an environmental hazard.
Estimated 415,000 to 1.92 million LSLs of 3.74 million service lines by 1,660 CWSs (IEPA report)
Primary agency webpage: Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA)
The Illinois General Assembly and Governor Bruce Rauner enacted SB550 in January 2017 regarding lead in drinking water. For LSLs, it directs utilities to 1) create a comprehensive LSL inventory, and 2) provide notice to occupants of residences potentially affected by construction or repair work on water mains, LSLs, or water meters.
Under the law, CWSs must provide the IEPA with a "water distribution system material inventory" on April 15 of each year, starting in 2018, until the inventory is complete. IEPA also directs CWSs to post their materials inventory, including locations of LSLs, on their public website. If the CWS does not have a public website, IEPA will post their inventory data for them; however, this will not include location information. The inventory must identify the:
- Total number of service lines within or connected to the distribution system, including privately owned service lines;
- Number of all known LSLs within or connected to the distribution system, including privately owned LSLs; and
- Number of LSLs that were added to the inventory after the previous year's submission.
As of March 2019, 1,659 CWSs have reported to the IEPA on 3.74 million service lines (84 CWSs have not yet reported). About 11% of the total service lines were reported as lead and 40% were reported as unknown. By EDF's calculations, Illinois has between 415,000 and 1.92 million lead pipes (including unknowns). IEPA published an online tool to enable customers to determine service line material types in their CWSs. For more information, see our blogs on Illinois' mandatory LSL inventory and the state's newly published online tool.
Utilities must follow specific requirements when performing construction or repair work on a water main, service line or a water meter. With limited exceptions, they must provide individual written notice to residents at least 14 days before work begins. The notice must warn potentially affected residents of the dangers of lead and what practices they should follow to prevent the consumption of any lead in drinking water. The recommended practices must include flushing of water lines during and after the completion of the repair or replacement work and cleaning of faucet aerator screens.
If the utility serves a significant portion of non-English speaking consumers, the notification must contain information in the appropriate language and provide contact information to request assistance. For multi-dwelling buildings, the notice may be posted on the primary entrance to the dwelling.
In addition, Illinois requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers if they are "aware of unsafe concentrations of or unsafe conditions related to lead paint, lead water pipes, lead plumbing pipes, or lead in the soil on the premises." Presumably, sellers could decide that the presence of an LSL alone would not be an unsafe condition.
In April 2017, the Indiana General Assembly enacted HEA-1519, allowing the Commission to approve an investor-owned utility's request to fold the cost of LSL replacement into the rates paid by customers. To qualify, a utility must submit a plan addressing 10 elements and demonstrate the proposal is reasonable and in the public's interest.
The law was enacted amidst efforts by the IURC and IFA to provide the City of East Chicago with $3 million to fully replace 500 LSLs on private and public property.
Pursuant to HEA-1519, in July 2018, the IURC approved a proposal from Indiana American Water to fully replace its estimated 50,000 LSLs on public and private property using rates paid by customers. For more information, see our blog on the landmark decision.
Also in July 2018, the IFA, which manages the State's Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF), launched a "Lead Line Replacement Incentive" to support full replacement of LSLs and galvanized pipe service lines. Eligible communities receive improved ranking on the priority list and interest rates as low as 0% for the replacement projects. More information about the program is available in a fact sheet. In 2017, IFA was selected by EPA for funding under the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) program for a $436 million loan to provide additional support for the SRF.
Indiana also conducted a voluntary survey of CWSs in 2016 to learn more about LSLs in the state. CWS responses are online in a search engine for compliance documents. EDF analyzed the data provided by IDEM. See our blog highlighting the survey as a good model and our webpage mapping CWS responses. We found that 57% of CWSs responded. These responses covered 92% of the state's 1.87 million service lines. We estimated the state has as many as 599,000 LSLs - 32% of total lines based on:
- 206,000 known LSLs (11%)
- 268,000 service lines of unknown material in reporting CWSs (14%); and
- 125,000 service lines in CWSs that did not respond (7%).
In addition, Indiana requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers any known hazardous conditions on the property. A lead pipe is not one of the examples provided. A seller may not consider an LSL to be a hazardous condition.
Primary agency webpage: Louisiana Department of Health (LDH)
In June 2019, the Louisiana Legislature passed a resolution establishing the Louisiana Task Force on Lead-Free Water to study the problem of lead contamination in state and local water systems. The Task Force is scheduled to report its findings and make recommendations at least 60 days before the start of the 2021 Regular Session of the Legislature.
Between 2016 and 2018, LDH surveyed the 71 CWSs in the state serving more than 10,000 people, requesting a materials inventory. The agency posted the 46 responses it received from these systems online.
Of the 15 CWSs serving more than 50,000 people:
- 7 (47%) did not respond including both that serve New Orleans.
- 6 (40%) reported have no known LSLs.
- 1 (6%) response (from City of Alexandria) did not address issue.
- 1 (7%) estimated that less than 0.5% of their service lines may contain lead.
Of the 56 CWSs serving between 10,000 and 50,000 people:
- 18 (32%) did not respond.
- 3 (5%) requested additional time to report.
- 28 (50%) reported have no known LSLs.
- 4 (7%) reports did not address issue.
- 3 (5%) reported a total of 151 LSLs.
In addition, Louisiana requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers any known defects with water quality or the presence of hazardous waste on the property. Lead in drinking water or lead service lines are not mentioned as potential defects or hazardous material.
Primary agency webpages: Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (MCWT) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP)
In July 2018, the MCTW, in coordination with the MassDEP, announced the development of an Incentivized Lead Service Line Replacement Program. Through the program, communities that appear on the 2019 Drinking Water Intended Use Plan for LSL or water main replacement projects can replace LSLs on private property at no extra cost to the community or homeowner. The program reduces the interest rate to as low as zero percent so the funds normally used for interest payment can be used instead for LSL replacement on private property. Applications were due in August 2018. The MCWT expects this to be a part of its loan program moving forward.
Additionally, in response to EPA’s 2016 letter to states about increasing transparency in Lead and Copper Rule implementation, the MassDEP conducted a voluntary survey of public water systems in the state. The state sent a Survey Monkey poll to 523 active CWSs and 259 non-transient, non-community public water systems with the goal of identifying technical needs and best practices related to LSL program implementation.
In DEP’s October 2016 summary of the survey results, 547 systems (69%) responded. Survey respondents reported having 22,023 LSLs and 15,809 lead goosenecks in the system, only 17% of AWWA’s estimate of 220,000.
On August 15, 2018 MassDEP followed up on the voluntary Lead Service Line (LSL) survey and sent out two notices: 1) A reminder notice was sent to the 316 CWSs and Non-Transient Non-Community Water systems that did not respond to the 2016 survey. The reminder notice offered the systems another opportunity to complete the LSL survey, and informed them of available technical assistance and funding opportunities for PWSs and 2) a notice was sent to all systems that responded to the initial survey to informed them of available assistance and funding opportunities and to encouraged them to share any new information since their initial response.
As of December 1, 2018, 590 systems responded to the reminder notices, 240 systems indicated that they did not have any LSLs and 304 systems indicated that they were not aware of the exact number of LSL they have to date. Raw data of the initial and reminder survey is available upon request to MassDEP Drinking Water Program.
MassDEP has also incorporated scanning of public water systems (PWS) ‘tie” or service card into an on-going Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping program for PWS distribution systems.
Additionally, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) has a $100 million program offering 10-year, interest free loans to the communities who receive the wholesaler’s water for efforts to fully replace LSLs. MWRA is the state’s largest wholesaler, serving 40% of the state’s customers, and M45 of its water communities are eligible for funds under the program.
Primary agency webpage: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
In June 2018, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder followed through on his promise to overhaul to state's version of EPA's Lead and Copper Rule to address shortcomings revealed by the tragedy in Flint. The key LSL-related provisions are at 325.11604 and 325.11604f.
The new standards accelerate LSL replacement by requiring CWSs to:
- Conduct a materials inventory: Provide DEQ with: 1) a preliminary distribution system materials inventory of service lines based on a thorough assessment of existing sources of information due by January 1, 2020; 2) a complete inventory, including methodology used to verify its accuracy, by January 1, 2025; and 3) a comprehensive update of the inventory every 5 years starting in 2030. The inventory must include materials in the portion of the service line on private property.
- Replace the entire LSL: Replace entire LSLs, including goosenecks, on public and private property as well as galvanized steel service lines that are or were downstream of a lead pipe. There are special provisions for emergency repairs. Use of techniques that coat or line lead or galvanized steel service lines to comply with the replacement requirements is prohibited.
- Meet a 15- or 20-year LSL replacement schedule: Achieve a replacement schedule average 5% per year starting in 2021 totaling not more than 20 years for replacement of all LSLs, unless the system has an alternative plan approved by the state DEQ. For CWSs that exceed the Lead Action Level (LAL) after installing corrosion control, the rate shall be 7% per year. In 2025, the LAL drops from 15 to 12ppb. An annual summary of service line repairs and replacements is required.
- Pay for replacement unless no control: Replace the entire LSL, gooseneck, or galvanized steel line at CWS's expense unless it can show that it has no control of the service line .Control includes the authority to replace, repair, or maintain service lines or to set standards for construction, repair, or replacement of the service lines.
- Notify customers: If system has LSLs or service lines of unknown material: 1) include in annual Consumer Confidence Report the number of LSLs, the number of service lines of unknown material, and the total number of service lines in the supply and 2) notify owner and occupant of property: a) within 30 days of determining a service line contains or is presumed to contain lead; and b) when new water account is opened if premises has known or presumed LSLs.
In August 2018, the state DEQ provided $9.5 million in grants to 18 communities to update materials inventories and asset management plans and for development of full LSL replacement projects. The department intends to evaluate projects conducted by the grantees for the pilot to determine future recommendations for community LSL replacement.
In addition, Michigan requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers the type of materials (copper, galvanized or other) used in the plumbing system and if there are any known problems. The seller is not prompted to identify lead as a plumbing material and may not consider an LSL to be a known problem.
Primary agency webpage: Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC)
In May 2018, Missouri’s Public Service Commission determined the Missouri American Water Company (MAWC) could continue its LSL Replacement program and approved a rate increase for the purpose of infrastructure improvements – including LSL replacement. For MAWC’s program, the water utility replaces LSLs (owned by MAWC and by customers) when discovered during a water main replacement. MAWC serves more than 150 communities in the state.
In August 2018, New Jersey's Governor signed legislation authorizing municipalities to replace lead contaminated services (including LSLs) on private property if the work is: 1) an environmental infrastructure project; and 2) funded by loans from either the NJDEP or the NJEIT.
Additionally, for the State Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019, NJDEP and NJEIT used state revolving loan funds to establish a $30 million Lead Service Line Replacement funding package. Eligible applicant projects can receive up to $1,000,000 per year, 90% in principal forgiveness and 10% DEP interest-free loans. Projects must result in full LSL replacement – partial replacements are not eligible.
To receive the funds applicants must serve communities with a median household income less than the median for the county and either publicly owned nonprofit non-community water systems or public community water systems that are owned by water commissions, supply authorities, or districts.
In addition, New Jersey has a voluntary disclosure form that home sellers can provide information about known conditions affecting water quality of the presence of toxic substances on the property to potential homebuyers. Lead pipes are not provided as an example.
Primary agency webpages: New York Department of Health (DOH)
In April 2017, through the state budget for fiscal year 2017-2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature created an LSL replacement grant program and allocated $20 million to support it. The New York State DOH developed the Lead Service Line Replacement Program and is required to allocate the funds equitably among the regions of the state and within a region by 1) prioritizing municipalities with a high percentage of elevated blood lead levels, and 2) considering whether the community is low income and the number of LSLs in need of replacement. In November 2017, the Governor announced the municipal awardees of the funding; 26 municipalities were awarded a combined $20 million to facilitate the replacement of LSLs. The grant funds are used to replace residential LSLs from the main to the home, including the portion on private property. In July 2019, the Governor announced a second round of funding – 18 communities awarded a combined $10 million – as part of the state’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017.
In April 2018, the Governor signed legislation requiring the development of a plan for statewide LSL replacement. The plan must include a report on the LSL replacement grant program, resources for the identification of LSLs, the cost of replacement, and guidance for municipalities.
In addition, New York requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers if lead plumbing is present and are given the options of yes, no, unknown or not applicable. The seller may not consider an LSL to be part of the plumbing.
Primary agency webpage: North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
North Carolina conducted a voluntary materials inventory survey of water utilities in 2016. Utilities that reported having LSLs were not required to provide an estimate of the number of LSLs. The state provided the reported results of the survey on their webpage. The file contains system-reported data, which may be incomplete, as some systems have yet to complete all the associated forms. The state also requests that new water systems complete the forms and on-line reporting process.
In addition, North Carolina requires sellers to disclose the type of water pipe material to potential home buyers. Lead is not provided as an option.
Primary agency webpage: Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA)
In May 2016, the Ohio General Assembly enacted HB512 to reduce lead in drinking water, primarily through improved communications to customers and residents. The law requires community and non-transient, non-community water systems to 1) identify and map areas of the system that are known or are likely to contain LSLs, and 2) identify characteristics of the buildings served by the system that may contain lead piping, solder, or fixtures.
The systems were required to submit the map by December 2016, and update the information every five years.
The Ohio EPA provided guidance to water systems and posted PDF versions of more than 1,800 maps of LSL locations on its website. Several cities went beyond these requirements and posted interactive maps or search engines. See Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland for examples.
In May 2018, Ohio EPA updated the state's Lead and Copper Rule to require specific work practices when performing field work that could disturb LSLs beginning October 1, 2018. CWSs conducting a water main replacement in an area with either known LSLs or one likely to contain LSLs must:
- Offer and provide NSF/ANSI 53 certified drinking water filters up to a period of 3 months to impacted customers
- Notify customers at least 45 days in advance of replacement unless work is an emergency repair. The notice must 1) explain that the work may cause a temporary increase in lead levels in drinking water; and 2) provide instruction of filter use offered by utility; and 3) provide guidance on measures consumers can take to reduce lead levels at their tap.
If a CWS is replacing any portion of a LSL, it must:
- Replace the utility-owned portion of the LSL and offer to replace the privately-owned portion. The utility is expressly not required to bear the cost of replacing the privately-owned portion where the property owner chooses not to pay the cost or where replacement is precluded by state, local, or common law. In this situation, the utility may conduct a partial replacement but must maintain records of the decision and location for at least 12 years.
- Notify consumers at least 45 days in advance of replacement unless the work is an emergency repair. The notice must 1) explain that the work may cause a temporary increase in lead levels in drinking water; and 2) provide instruction of filter use offered by utility; and 3) provide guidance on measures consumers can take to reduce lead levels at their tap.
- If the LSL is partially replaced:
- Offer and provide NSF/ANSI 53 certified filters up to a period of 3 months to impacted customers.
- Offer to collect a representative sample from each partially-replaced LSL within 72 hours of completing the work. The utility must mail or otherwise provide the owner and resident with the lab results within two business days.
- Provide notice to all residents of all buildings served by the line similar to the notice described above. In multi-family housing, the notice may be posted at a conspicuous location. In schools, child cares, nursing homes, or correctional institutions, the parents or guardians must be directly notified. In other buildings, only the building administrator must be notified.
In addition, Ohio requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers the presence of hazardous materials. Lead-based paint is provided as an example, but not lead pipes. A seller may not consider an LSL to be a hazardous material.
Primary agency webpages: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC)
Pennsylvania has passed laws expressly describing the conditions under which rate funds paid by customers can be used to replace LSLs on private property for both municipal-owned and investor-owned CWSs. For municipal utilities, in October 2017, the state enacted P.L. 2017-44, which included a provision giving municipalities the authority to replace or remediate private water and sewer laterals using public funds and municipal employees if they determine the work "will benefit the public health."
Municipalities must first consider the availability of and competing demands on public funds, equipment, personnel, and facilities. The law makes clear that replacing the LSL does not make a municipality the owner of the private lateral or obligate it to perform other duties: although the municipality is given the option to do so.
In October 2018, the state enacted P.L. 2018-120 (HB-2075) to establish a framework for investor-owned utilities to recoup the costs of replacing LSLs on private property from rates paid by all customers. It allows that cost to be considered "other related capitalized costs that are part of the public utility's distribution system" and allowed recovery an "equity return rate." However, the utility must first obtain prior approval from the PUC. The PUC must establish standards, processes, and procedures to: ensure the work is accompanied by a warranty and ensure the utility has access to the property during the warranty.
The 2018 law builds on a March 2017, the PUC decision approving a proposal from the York Water System to use rates paid by customers to fund full LSL replacement. The utility had exceeded the lead action level and was required by the LCR to replace LSLs. The PUC allowed rates to fund replacement on private property because it was in the public interest to avoid both the public health threat posed by partial replacements and the haphazard approach of relying on property owners to replace their portion.
The Commission gave the utility four years to replace LSLs on private property when already replacing lines on public property and nine years to replace LSLs on private property whenever they are discovered. Funds for replacing customer-owned LSLs must be tracked separately, and the utility is not permitted to capitalize the investment.
In addition, Pennsylvania requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers the type of plumbing materials used in the plumbing system, and lead and unknown are options. The seller may not consider an LSL to be part of the plumbing.
Primary agency webpage: Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
Vermont DEC used state revolving loan funds to establish a $125,000 grant program to address LSLs. The agency provided 2 grants, the maximum of which was $80,000.
These grants are intended to aid utilities to:
- Find, map, and inventory lead or lead-containing water distribution and customer service lines;
- Establish a proactive, full LSL replacement program;
- Educate the public about the risks of exposure to lead in drinking water and how to reduce risks; and
- Develop a plan to replace LSLs on public and private property.
Primary agency webpage: Virginia Department of Health (DOH)
The Virginia DOH used state revolving loan funds to establish an LSL Replacement Rebate Program for full replacement of LSLs. Under the program, the utility rebates property owners or authorized third parties the cost of replacing the LSL (or galvanized pipe) on the property owner's side of the meter.
The program is limited to $5,000 per service line and may include up to $500 as an administrative fee. The utility can participate for one year with an option for a one-year renewal under the program. Residences, apartments, daycares, private schools, and other facilities where sensitive populations may be present are eligible for replacement. Eligible waterworks may apply for funding by April 1 every year.
Primary agency webpage: Washington Department of Health (DOH)
In May 2016, Governor Jay Inslee announced a directive to the DOH and partner agencies to take actions to reduce lead exposure from paint and water and improve child blood lead testing and follow-up. Governor Inslee set a goal of eliminating LSLs and other lead components, such as goosenecks, within 15 years. The agencies were tasked with developing policy and budgetary proposals to achieve this goal. The DOH was given two years to work with utilities to identify all LSLs and lead components.
In October 2016, DOH released its overall recommendations and undertook a comprehensive survey of all public water systems (PWSs) in the state. It released a summary of its findings in February and updated it in June 2017 and updated it in July 2018. The DOH received responses from 686 water systems that serve more than 2.2 million service connections of CWSs (called Group A water systems in the state), more than 90 percent of such connections in the state.
Based on the original survey results, DOH extrapolated to estimate state-wide totals of 1,000 to 2,000 LSLs and 6,800 lead goosenecks. Lead goosenecks are technically not LSLs under the current EPA definition. Since that time, DOH conducted follow-up phone interviews with water utilities. As a result of those interviews, DOH refined their original estimates and now conclude there are fewer than 500 LSLs and 5,000 lead goosenecks still in service. DOH will prioritize DWSRF funding until all utilities replace their lead components.
The DOH also modified the eligibility criteria for drinking water state revolving fund loans starting in August 2016 so that systems that can document the presence of lead service lines and other lead components will be given higher priority. The agency also said it will seek additional federal assistance.
In addition, Washington real estate laws require sellers to disclose to homebuyers substances or materials that may be an environmental concern. A lead pipe is not one of the examples provided. Therefore, a seller may not consider an LSL to be an environmental concern.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) requires more than 500 public- and investor-owned utilities it regulates to report annually on the number of service lines for each material type (grouped by diameter) in their system. The requirement has been in place since 2004 for the portion of the lines on public property and since 2018 for the portion on private property. The PSC provides reporting guidance to utilities and makes the information available through separate webpages for municipal/sanitary districts and investor-owned utilities. DNR staff use PSC data to help inform DNR activities related to Federal Lead and Copper Rule compliance.
The Wisconsin DNR used $26.8 million in state revolving loan funds and established a two-year program to provide funding for disadvantaged municipalities to replace LSLs on private property. Thirty-five municipalities were awarded funds in state fiscal year 2017.
Participating municipalities were awarded principal forgiven funds according to the following framework:
- $1,000,000 for municipalities with population ≥ 500,000
- $500,000 for municipalities with population < 500,000 and ≥ 50,000
- $300,000 for municipalities with population < 50,000
In the state’s fiscal year 2018, 29 municipalities were awarded funding. Principal forgiveness loans for those applicants were allocated based on their Medial Household Income (MHI) and the number of documented LSLs. Allocations ranged from $100,000 to $4 million.
In February 2018, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation that allows municipalities and water utilities to provide financial assistance to property owners to replace LSLs on private property. The law enables a utility or municipality to seek approval from the state PSC to provide customers with financial assistance if the following conditions are met:
- The city, town or village has passed an ordinance:
- Authorizing the assistance; and
- Requiring each owner to replace customer-side water service lines that contain lead; and
- The utility-side water service line either does not contain lead or will be replaced at the same time as the customer-side; and
- The financial assistance is limited as follows:
- Financial assistance is not more than 1/2 of the total cost to property owners;
- Loans to property owners are not forgivable; and
- Each owner in a class of customers are treated equally with respect to financial assistance.
The PSC has a webpage describing the approval process and, since August 2018, the commission has approved three utility programs. Now that this legislation has been passed, and the DNR's two-year private LSL replacement funding program has ended, municipalities are also able to obtain funding for private LSL replacements through the regular Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) process.
In addition, Wisconsin requires sellers to disclose to homebuyers if they are “aware of a defect caused by unsafe concentrations of or unsafe conditions relating to . . . lead in water supplies or plumbing system . . .” Sellers may decide that the presence of an LSL alone is not a defect or unsafe condition.
* The gooseneck is a short piece of lead pipe that connects the main in the street to the service line to allow for some movement of the pipes. EPA's Lead and Copper Rule excludes goosenecks from the definition of a LSL if the rest of the line is not lead. However, the risk posed by goosenecks are expected to be similar to LSLs. In 2015, EPA's Advisory Committee's recommended that the exclusion be removed and goosenecks be considered LSLs. EDF follows this recommendation.