GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) The Green Bay Water Utility says it’s on track to remove all lead water pipes in the city before the end of 2020. Kris Schuller reports on the ongoing effort to take the toxic metal out of the water system.
On the east side of the city – a familiar sound. As Green Bay Water Utility crews pull out utility-owned lead service pipes, removing the supply lines that allows lead to leach into the system creating a health hazard.
“Lead is a health and safety concern and we take that very seriously,” said Operations Manager Brian Powell.
Powell says in 2016, after the Flint, Michigan water crisis that raised awareness of the dangers of lead in drinking water, the water utility made a pledge to remove all remaining lead water pipes from the city by the end of 2020.
“We decided to ramp up our program and get rid of the problem itself,” Powell said.
Since 2016 the Green Bay Water Utility has pulled out over 100,000 pounds of lead pipe. But their work now is almost done.
“We’re definitely on track to get them out this year,” Powell said.
The utility has spent $9 million removing over 1,600 lead services owed by the utility and 220 more, the responsibility of property owners. Leaving just a combined total of roughly 200 lead service lines left that still must be removed.
“Lead in the water system is a bad thing, we know that. Green Bay is being just real proactive and aggressive at getting it out of the way,” said Distribution Manager Jason Maes.
And the utility is doing it one lead service line at a time – ever closer to accomplishing its goal.
“From the beginning of the water cycle to the end, it’s better for everyone involved,” Powell said.
So far state grants have covered all the costs of lead pipe removal for homeowners.