See the original article.
Old lead water lines to abandoned homes and vacant lots in the Marshalltown and University Park neighborhoods in Gary are the latest lines being replaced by Indiana American Water Co.
The work is part of a multi-year, statewide effort by the water utility to replace all lead service lines throughout the state, according to Joe Loughmiller, external affairs manager for Indiana American Water Co.
Water lines to occupied homes will have to wait until the social distancing measures enacted by Gov. Eric Holcomb in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, are lifted, he said.
“We have been very proactive in Indiana dealing with the issue of lead service lines,” Loughmiller said via email. The company regularly samples for lead pursuant to the EPA’s Copper Rule and continue to be in compliance across the state, including Northwest Indiana.
Gary Mayor Jerome Prince said he is glad to see the work being completed without a charge to homeowners."
Whenever we see old, lead service lines replaced, it's a win for public health here,” Prince said.
Social distancing requirements are impacting how Indiana American Water Co. handles its water line replacements.
Loughmiller said it is uncertain how many lead service lines exists throughout the state, but the company estimates there may be as many as 55,000. About 78% of those lead service lines, about 43,000, are in the Northwest Indiana service area where past local plumbing codes stipulated the use of lead into the 1970s in some areas.
“Statewide we have already completed replacements and retirements of nearly 24% of the estimated total number of service lines across the state, including nearly 10,000 in Northwest Indiana,” he said.
Loughmiller said Indiana American had been replacing the lines throughout the state but ramped up the efforts after the Indiana General Assembly in 2017 gave water utilities the ability to replace lead service lines to a property while recouping the costs through rates. Previous to that legislation, water utilities were only authorized to replace the company-owned portion of the line.
The lead service line replacement plan submitted to the state has several advantages to consumers including to remove or mitigate the potential threat of lead in drinking water from lead service lines and reap the benefits of up to 30% lower cost for replacements since they are being done in large volumes.
Loughmiller said the plan also recognizes the societal cost of lead service lines, which tend to be in older, less affluent areas were the customer is less likely to be able to afford the cost of removing their lead service lines.
“The state has supported our efforts to remove the lead without placing undue burden on individual customers,” Loughmiller said.
Indiana American’s lead service line replacement plan was approved by the Indiana Regulatory Commission in July 2019 and is a long-term, multi-year plan, he said.
“We estimate we will replace all lead service lines in communities we serve across the state by no later than 2042 and possibly as soon as 2028 depending on factors such as customer impacts and available contractors to perform the work," Loughmiller said.
Carrie Napoleon is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.
Have a suggestion for an article or blog to add?
Let us know!