EDF Recognizes Communities Making Progress on Replacing Lead Water Pipes

Fourteen Communities Have Set a Goal of Replacing All Lead Water Pipes

August 7, 2017
Keith Gaby, (202) 572-3336, kgaby@edf.org

(Washington, DC – August 7, 2017) Environmental Defense Fund today released a webpage recognizing communities across the country that are taking action to reduce lead in drinking water by replacing lead pipes. Fourteen communities in seven states have set a public goal to remove all of their lead service lines (LSLs) – the lead pipes connecting water mains under the street to homes and other buildings. Collectively, the communities plan to replace over 240,000 LSLs in their water systems. Nineteen additional communities have taken important steps but have not yet set such a goal.

“Everyone can agree that lead in drinking water is harmful to our kids. Lead service lines are likely the greatest source of that lead. But lead water pipes still serve millions of American homes,” said Tom Neltner, EDF Health’s Chemicals Policy Director. “Replacing lead service lines is incredibly important for public health and we commend the communities that have set a goal and are taking steps to get the lead out of their drinking water. I hope our analysis inspires more communities to take on this challenge for the benefit of their community’s children.”

The dangers of exposure to lead in drinking water are well known. Even at low levels in the blood, lead exposure impairs children’s brain development, leading to behavioral and learning problems and lower IQs.

“We’ve made great strides in getting lead out of contact with drinking water and full lead service line replacement is an obvious and challenging next step,” said Lynn Thorp, National Campaigns Director at Clean Water Action. “It is encouraging that water systems, local elected officials, public health professionals, and consumers are making progress in many communities.” 

An estimated 6 to 10 million homes in the US still get their water from these lead pipes. Eliminating LSLs is an essential part of any program to reduce lead in drinking water. Setting a goal of full replacement is a critical step in the process—while clearly much work remains to ensure that LSLs are safely replaced.

“Replacing lead service lines requires a broad societal commitment and a spirit of collaboration among utilities, property owners, public officials, philanthropists and many other partners,” said David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association. “Communities that develop a vision for the ultimate removal of LSLs are taking an important step in protecting households from lead in drinking water.”

EDF identified the following 14 communities that have publicly announced a goal of replacing all LSLs in their jurisdictions:

  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Denver, CO
  • Detroit, MI
  • Eau Claire, WI
  • Flint, MI
  • Green Bay, WI
  • Platteville, WI
  • Pueblo, CO
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Two Rivers, WI
  • York, PA
  • Quincy, MA
  • Waterloo, WI

For each LSL replacement program, EDF highlights progress in four areas: Avoiding partial LSL replacement; providing economical and equitable replacement options for homeowners; developing a robust, public inventory; and providing guidance to assist property owners. 


Many communities have found creative and innovative solutions to deal with the significant challenges of LSL replacement and others are working to develop solutions.By recognizing and describing the efforts of these communities, EDF hopes both to highlight progress made at the local level on LSL replacement and provide a resource for other communities hoping to take important steps to get the lead out of their water systems.

Learn more about each community’s progress on LSL replacement here: https://www.edf.org/health/recognizing-community-efforts-replace-lsl

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