AI Will Help Toledo, Ohio, Find and Replace Lead Pipes

Machine learning to eradicate lead pipes

Toledo is receiving a two-year grant of $ 200,000 from the EPA’s State Environmental Justice Collaborative Cooperative Agreement (SEJCA) program to help with the replacement. This emerges from an EPA project summary.

Kurt Thiede, the agency’s regional administrator, told The Blade newspaper in Toledo that the goal is “to ensure that clean air and water are shared by everyone regardless of their zip code”.

The project, Thiede said, “will reduce the risk of lead exposure for the most vulnerable residents of Toledo by using historical data and technology to target line exchanges.”

City officials have set a goal of replacing 1,000 supply lines annually by 2020, reports The Blade.

The project will focus on both accelerating the identification and replacement of lead water pipes and developing a “public awareness campaign for the most vulnerable communities so that they can minimize their lead exposure when the city replaces their utilities” EPA.

The persistent presence of lead pipes “poses a serious health risk to the population, particularly low-income populations and minorities,” the EPA notes.

The city – in collaboration with BlueConduit, Freshwater Future, the University of Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and local partners – “designed this project with the aim of reducing lead exposure through well-tested, data-driven prioritization techniques. “The EPA notes.

Toledo will use a predictive machine learning model to assess the likelihood of house-to-house lead water supplies, “based on existing package and neighborhood-level data and a representative sample of city water supplies taken by the project team. “

This allows the city to determine if a house has copper or lead pipes without digging them up, saving both time and money. The city of Flint, Michigan used a similar tool to identify lead pipes in the city.

The data then help the city to determine which houses should be specifically trained, water filters and ultimately the prioritization of the lead pipe change. The city will hold stakeholder meetings and produce educational materials that will focus on the city’s risk communities.

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