APPLETON – There is good news for Appleton residents who have lead or galvanized steel water pipes running into their homes.
City officials are developing a program that would use federal and state funds, including $ 1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), to cover the cost of replacing these pipes on private properties.
The proposed program is not income based and is open to any property owner in the city who has been found to have lead or galvanized service lines.
“It’s good business,” Public Works Director Paula Vandehey told The Post-Crescent. “We’re excited. We thought it was a great use of the ARPA funds.”
The American Rescue Plan Act is a $ 1.9 trillion package designed to help the country recover from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Appleton will receive $ 14.9 million in ARPA funding and the use of $ 1 million to replace senior service lines has received broad support from the Joint Council.
The grant “has a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of a wide variety of Appleton citizens while also helping to improve the city’s infrastructure,” City Councilor Sheri Hartzheim said in an email to her colleagues.
In addition to the $ 1 million ARPA funds required to be spent by the end of 2024, Appleton is applying for a $ 500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to improve its replacement program.
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What is a water supply pipe?
A water supply line is a pipe that runs between a property’s water meter and the water company’s curb stop, which is a shut-off valve usually located behind the curb on public properties. The property owner is responsible for maintaining and replacing the house connection line up to the curb, and the water company is responsible for everything from the curb to the water pipe.
Older water supply lines were typically made of lead, a toxic metal that gets into drinking water and over time can build up in the body, causing serious health problems, including brain damage in children. Other pipes are made of galvanized steel, which can corrode and also contaminate drinking water.
The environmental protection agency has set the target for the maximum pollutant content of lead in drinking water to zero, since lead can be harmful to health even with low exposure.
Appleton City Council recently issued an ordinance requiring owners to replace leaded or galvanized utility lines within one year of written notice from the Appleton Water Utility at the owner’s expense. The vote was 14-0.
Previously, property owners did not have to replace leading service lines unless the lines were leaking or failing. Then they replaced the wires with another material like copper or plastic.
The new regulation might have been more difficult to sell had it not been for the $ 1 million council earmarked to replace a landowner, which typically costs $ 3,700 to $ 5,000.
“We will replace the managerial service,” said Vandehey, “but the property owner will be responsible for all restoration costs such as basement floors, flower beds, porches, etc.”
The program also does not cover the replacement of lead pipes in a home.
Appleton hired Arcadis, a consulting firm, to develop the exchange program for senior service lines. At the beginning of next year it is to be submitted to the municipal council for review.
Appleton has 27,000 household connection lines
The gradual abolition of lead service lines began in the 1960s. However, there is no set deadline for when their use has ceased.
“We know if your home was built in the 1980s you don’t have lead service,” Vandehey said.
Appleton has approximately 27,000 residential water supply lines. Approximately half of them have been inspected, identifying approximately 100 line service lines that need to be replaced.
Vandehey said the $ 1 million in ARPA cash will be enough to replace all known lead service lines.
The remaining service lines in Appleton will be inspected by city officials over the next several years to determine how many additional lines need to be replaced.
“We know we will find more,” said Vandehey. “That is why we are applying for the DNR grant.
In the past, Appleton has focused on replacing the lead lines on the water utility. The city has replaced several hundred of them in the past few years, and 11 are yet to be replaced.
Contact Herzog Behnke at 920-993-7176 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DukeBehnke.