Oct 13, 2020

Green Bay Water Utility Replaces City's Final Lead Pipe

This marks the 1,782 utility-owned lead line replaced since January 2016.

water quality

The Green Bay Water Utility removed its last lead pipe in the city. 

This concludes a years-long effort to improve water quality for residents, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.  

Green Bay, Wisconsin officials announced this accomplishment at a news conference before removing an east-side lead service line and replacing it with a copper pipe. This marked the 1,782 utility-owned line replaced since January 2016, which was when the utility ramped up lead removal amid the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

"Our (lead) levels are way down," said Nancy Quirk, the utility's general manager.

Green Bay last installed lead pipes in 1944 and began replacing them in 1990. At that time, the city had 4,400. 

In 2011, the water utility found levels in some homes were above limits set by the U.S. EPA and identified 1,782 utility-owned and 247 privately owned service lines which needed to be replaced, reported the Green Bay Press Gazette. 

According to Quirk, the utility eliminated all but one privately owned lead pipe. The final lead line goes through a home pending foreclosure and will be replaced once the home belongs to the bank.

Over $6 million was spent by the utility to replace the city's remaining lead service lines. This was done in part through two rate increases over the five-year period and with assistance from the Lambeau Field tax credit and loans from the state Department of Natural Resources. 

Homeowners with lead lines were not required to pay for a replacement, added the Green Bay Press Gazette.

According to Quirk, it was important to remove the source of the lead entirely instead of using a chemical treatment, which could potentially increase phosphorus levels in the Fox River. 

The utility flushes the system to keep water clean and will also monitor copper levels to ensure the new pipes work smoothly.

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