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ESCANABA — In an effort to keep up with paving projects and comply with new rules handed down by the state, the Escanaba City Council Thursday approved entering into contracts for water line replacements and discussed how to address residents who had already replaced their own lines.
In four separate motions, the council approved entering into contracts for the replacement of water lines deemed contaminated under new rules from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), formerly the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Under the rules, any service line connected to a main using a lead gooseneck or that was once connected by a lead gooseneck is considered contaminated, regardless of the amount of measurable lead present in the property’s water.
EGLE is further requiring cities to begin replacing lead service lines at a rate of 5 percent per year starting in 2021 and leaves the city responsible for all work and costs associated with line replacements up to the property’s water meter, which is typically located inside a basement.
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The city is beating this year’s goals for removing lead and improving water quality.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) says since mid-March, it has already replaced over 700 public service lines that contain lead — setting the agency on track to replace over 3,700 more by June 2020.
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The crisis in Flint, Mich., made clear the health impacts of lead in drinking water, especially for infants, young children, and fetuses. Now water tests have found lead contamination in homes and schools across New Jersey. While the 1991 federal Lead and Copper Rule, which relies primarily on adjusting water chemistry to minimize the leaching of lead from old pipes into water, works most – but not all – of the time, it has failed to eliminate the biggest underlying source of lead in water: lead service lines.
These pipes, made of lead, deliver water to residences and smaller commercial buildings from the main under the street and serve as “lead straws.” There are an estimated 350,000 lead service lines in New Jersey, and until they are replaced, the problem of lead in water will not be resolved.
See the full article in WSPY News.
In a 6-0 vote, Montgomery trustees, at their meeting earlier this week, gave authorization for the signing of loan documents to offer lead line replacement to the roughly 105 homes in the community that have lead lines.
Montgomery Director of Finance Justin VanVooren explained that the loan agreement is through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a 100 percent forgivable loan up to $1 million.
Montgomery's loan would be for $1.85 million, with remaining funds used from 2017 bonds. While considerably less than many other communities, Montgomery's replacement amount more than doubled from the original estimate.
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PWSA has nearly $2 million still available for free on-demand lead line replacements for moderate and low-income drinking water customers.
As part of the settlement of an enforcement action by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Authority has established a free lead line replacement program available to homeowners and tenants who meet certain income requirements.
Under the program, PWSA must use $1.8 million for private lead line replacements before November 2020. The funding is expected to replace 200 privately-owned lead lines throughout our drinking water service territory. If there is also a publicly-owned lead line serving the property, they will replace it at no additional cost. Once approved, customers meeting the income requirements can have their lead line replaced in a matter of one or two months.
PWSA has teamed up with Dollar Energy Fund, Inc. to run the program. Although they are currently reaching out to customers already enrolled in other income assistance programs, there are many households not eligible for utility discounts and government assistance programs that would still be eligible for this program.
Read the full article from Michigan Radio.
On April 25, 2014, the city of Flint switched its water source to the Flint River without properly treating it. That damaged thousands of lead and galvanized water pipes which the city is replacing.
In 2016, University of Michigan researchers developed an algorithm to determine the neighborhoods most likely to have lead pipes. The on-again, off-again use of the model has raised concerns about the efficiency of the city's pipe replacement program.
The records for more than a century's worth of water pipe installations at homes in Flint are incomplete and often unreliable, so the algorithm uses whatever data are available, including the parcels, the years homes were built, and any confirmed construction materials in neighboring homes.
U of M professor of marketing Eric Schwartz worked on the project. In an interview with Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou, Schwartz said the machine-learning model helped the city get its work crews to areas where they would find a lot of lead pipes.
"Early on, we really looked at our success by saying, 'For every 100 homes that the city was going to with the intention of replacing [lead lines], how many of those homes really did need replacing?' And that number was around 80, 82%," he said. "We are trying to do better than just searching randomly across the city."
See the full article in WBEZ 91.5.
About 700 Chicago Park District drinking fountains are connected to water mains through lead service lines that can leach lead into the water. This week, park district officials say they have a five-year plan to either remove those fountains or replace the toxic lines with copper.
The move comes after tests in recent years found lead in the water of hundreds of park fountains — some 80 times higher than federal compliance levels.
“From here forward there are about 700 fountains that need to be addressed with our long-term plan,” said Dan Cooper, the district’s director of environmental services. “About 350 will be removed and 350 will be fixed with lead service line replacements.”
Although several fountains with lead plumbing are currently in operation at city parks, Cooper said those have been deemed “safe” to drink from, meaning most recent tests have shown lead levels at less than 2 parts per billion. Health authorities stress there is no safe level of lead for human consumption.
Cooper said many outdoor fountains are currently running continuously as part of a multi-week seasonal flushing. Many will be returned to push-button use in a few weeks. But fountains that had problematic lead readings in the past will continue to flow around the clock all season or until they have been fixed.
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April 2, 2019 – The Clinic is releasing a paper analyzing the authority of water utilities in thirteen key states to use ratepayer funds to pay for full lead service line (LSL) replacement. The paper, “Rates Could Fund Lead Pipe Replacement in Critical States,” is the product of a partnership between the Clinic and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Clinic Deputy Director Shaun Goho and Clinic student Marcello Saenz (JD ’19) researched and wrote the paper in collaboration with Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director at EDF. Our analysis concludes that there are no explicit legal barriers to using ratepayer funds for LSL replacement in these states.
LSLs—the pipes that connect the water main under a street to the plumbing in a building—are the largest source of lead in drinking water in those homes that have them (see diagram).
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Today, EDF and collaborators at Cornell published a new study that provides insight into how disclosure policies can impact potential home-buyer and renter behavior. This effort builds on a report EDF published in 2017 grading state housing disclosure policies according to their ability to help homebuyers make informed decisions about lead service lines (LSLs) before they sign a sales contract. LSLs are pipes that connect homes to the water mains under the street and are a major source of lead in drinking water. Four states — Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania — and Washington, DC scored an A-. Twenty-one states scored a D or F. The remaining 25 states scored a B or C.
Our analysis was based on a presumption that if potential homeowners are told that a home has an LSL, many would negotiate with the property owner for its removal, whether by having the seller replace it or building the cost into the mortgage to fund the buyer’s replacement. This was a reasonable presumption that underlies why sellers are required to disclose property defects and environmental hazards in many states.
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About one-third of more than 8,300 wells tested across the U.S. had groundwater with chemical characteristics that could cause lead, if present in plumbing, to leach into tap water at levels above the EPA Action Level, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Program. These characteristics are most common in groundwater in the East and Southeast.
Lead can dissolve into water if the water corrodes a lead-containing material such as lead pipes, lead solder, or brass fittings. The USGS study used measured chemical characteristics of groundwater from more than 8,300 wells tapping groundwater to estimate the potential solubility of lead for each sample. Groundwater with low pH, low alkalinity, and/or low phosphate concentrations had the greatest lead solubility potentials.
Nationwide, about 33% of untreated groundwater samples had the potential to dissolve 15 micrograms per liter or more of lead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Action Level for lead in treated water from public drinking water supplies, and 5% had the potential to dissolve 300 micrograms per liter or more of lead. The states with the greatest percentage of wells producing untreated groundwater with a high lead solubility potential (300 micrograms per liter or greater) were Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.
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