RACINE — City of Racine homeowners who still have lead pipes delivering their water will have an opportunity this year to have them replaced.
The city was awarded $1.6 million through the state’s Safe Drinking Water Loans program administered by the Department of Natural Resources.
Racine Water Utility has a goal to replace at least 400 private lead service water lines through use of the funding.
The program was discussed during the Finance and Personnel Committee meeting last week and is to be taken up by the City Council in the future.
Municipalities across the United States switched from lead to copper pipes in the 1940s.
In the past 20 years, whenever the city replaced a street, it would replace lead pipes within the public right of way with copper pipes.
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The city has replaced more than 1,000 lines in that time period.
However, the city was unable to replace the water service lines on private property because it was cost-prohibitive.
The city has received funding in the past to help homeowners and businesses defray the cost of lead pipe replacement.
In 2017, the city received $500,000 to replace lead pipes in 197 homes; in 2018, the city received $1.38 million to replace lead water service lines to 460 homes.
Lead pipe replacement
The Wisconsin DNR has called for more funding in order to replace all lead pipes across the state.
In October 2019, DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole called on the Legislature for more funding to remove lead pipes.
“There are hundreds of thousands of lead lines that need to be replaced in more than 130 cities, towns and villages across Wisconsin,” Cole said. “We have to get the lead service lines out of the ground if we are going to ensure drinking water is safely provided to all.”
He added: “There is no safe level of lead.”