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City program helps Eau Claire community replace lead pipes

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 5:40 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -Clear water is the meaning behind Eau Claire’s name. The city is working to make these words true for everyone.

City of Eau Claire Utilities Manager Lane Berg said keeping lead at a safe level is a priority.

“We add lime to our water to change the ph and make the water noncorrosive,” Berg said. “The lime we add to our water also coats the inside of our pipes, so we’ve been doing things forever and ever in the City of Eau Claire to protect our citizens from lead.”

Another way it’s trying to keep the water supply safe is by replacing lead pipes.

2,700 city owned service lines are known to have lead pipes.

On private property, there’s no official number, but Berg estimated 900 private service lines also need to be replaced.

In 2017 and 2018 the City of Eau Claire received funding through the DNR’s Safe Drinking Water Loan Program to help community members pay for upgrades.

The typical cost of getting lead pipes fixed is between $2,200 and $2,600. The program reimburses the homeowner $2,000.

“We encourage people to take advantage of the program because we have money to help them with replacement at this time,” Berg said. “In the future, who knows? We may not have the money for that.”

The city is once again applying for more funding from the state to keep this program rolling to help anyone who may need it.

If you’re not sure if your home has lead pipes, Berg said homes built in the 1950s or earlier may be at risk.

He said an easy at home test is to see if a magnet sticks to the pipe near the water meter.

If it sticks, you may have lead pipes as they tend to be galvanized.

For more information on the program offered through the city, click HERE.

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