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Work to begin on replacing lead pipes in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Tuesday put his signature on a new city ordinance that creates a systematic method of replacing its more than 70,000 lead service lines.

City officials earlier this year began to think of a way they could entirely replace lead pipes that provide drinking water to residents. The lead pipes are found in homes built in 1951 or earlier.

The program that the city came up with requires property owners to replace the pipes that run underneath their lots when the city replaces its own side. The replacements would largely occur under two scenarios: When a pipe is found to be leaking, or when the city is performing infrastructure improvements in the area.

In addition to this mandate, the city will help qualified property owners pay for the costs associated with the pipe-replacement work. Property owners would pay one-third of the costs up to $1,600. They can also choose to pay over 10 years through a special assessment from the city.

Milwaukee Common Council members approved the lead pipe-replacement proposal earlier this month. Barrett said this new mandate means the city “now has the tools in place” to replace all its lead pipes.

The city also has around $11 million in its 2017 budget that will go toward lead-abatement efforts, including the removal of lead paint from homes and replacement of lead pipes on private properties. This includes $6 million to replace service lines at 385 daycares and another 300 lines that are discovered to be damaged or leaking under homes.

The city began a pilot program last month for distributing free lead filters, which is mainly meant for low-income families with young children.

About Alex Zank, alex.zank@dailyreporter.com

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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