Lead Service Line Replacement

Lead service lines we’ve helped our clients replace

More about lead in drinking water

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree high levels of lead in tap water can have adverse health effects. Taking action to reduce exposure is vital for safety and well-being. Fehr Graham is taking steps to help communities improve outcomes by working with municipalities to find funding, investigate, develop plans and replace lead service pipes to keep water at standards customers expect.

Money we’ve helped clients secure to replace lead service lines


What is lead?

A:  Lead is a naturally occurring element found in all parts of our environment. While it has benefits, it can be harmful to humans and animals. Lead was used for years as a primary component in plumbing materials and household products such as paint, old toys, furniture and crafts.


What is a lead water service line?

A:  Lead service lines are pipes that bring water into a home from water main in the right of way. Lead service lines typically come through the basement floor or wall and hook up to the water meter.


How long has lead in drinking water been an issue?

A:  It is possible that homes built before 1986 have a lead service line, so lead in drinking water has been an issue for some time. In 1986, the federal government placed a ban on lead service lines through an amended Safe Drinking Water Act. The Safe Drinking Water Act, established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S., regulates the maximum allowable lead in drinking water.


Who is working to ensure lead in drinking water is reduced?

A:  Municipalities, engineering consultants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the state and federal levels, the World Health Organization and the Department of Public Health are focused on reducing lead service lines.


What changes are being made to reduce lead in drinking water?


The ultimate goal is to eliminate all lead service lines in the United States. In 2011, the Safe Drinking Water Act reduced the maximum allowable lead content in drinking water. The goal is to have all lead service lines replaced or eliminated by 2050. Communities are taking advantage of grants and forgivable loans to replace lead service lines. The Safe Drinking Water Act also restricts a public water supply’s ability to complete a partial lead service line replacement.

Here's a look at more specifics about lead in drinking water in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin:

Illinois: On Jan. 1, 2022, the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act (Public Act 102-0613) went into effect and requires public water supplies to submit a lead service line inventory to the Illinois EPA by April 15, 2023.

Iowa: All public water supply systems classified as community water systems and nontransient, noncommunity water systems in Iowa are required to submit lead service line inventories to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by Oct. 16, 2024.

Wisconsin: The Dairy State is also required to submit lead service line inventories to the Wisconsin DNR by Oct. 16, 2024.

Don’t live in these three states? Visit your state’s EPA website for more information on lead in drinking water.


What is the lead and copper rule?


The U.S. EPA enacted the lead and copper rule in 1991 to minimize lead and copper levels in drinking water, primarily by reducing the corrosivity of the water in the pipes. In 2020, the U.S. EPA finalized a major revision to the lead and copper rule to focus on protecting children in elementary schools and childcare facilities, removing sources of lead from drinking water and providing communities with information.

The lead and copper rule for Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin establishes maximum particulate concentration levels in drinking water, and the revision has different requirement depending on the state. It also restricts public water supplies from completing partial lead service line replacements. For more information on state-specific requirements, visit your state EPA website.


What is the process of maintaining water quality?

A:  Continuously testing water throughout the distribution system is one way to maintain quality. Testing follows strict quality standards.


What actions are being taken at the state and local levels?

A:  Lead legislation is happening for schools and healthcare facilities. Assisted living facilities and low-income areas are prioritized.


Should I be worried?

A:  While lead water service lines are a known risk, there are steps that can be taken to reduce exposure during the time lead service lines are identified and replaced. The EPA recommends regular water testing for homes with known lead services. There are NSF/ANSI 61-compliant filters that reduce particulate matter in drinking water that passes through the filter membrane. For more information, visit the EPA’s lead service line replacement webpage.


What options are there for funding lead service line replacements?


When it comes to funding lead service line replacements, there are options communities can pursue depending on the state and its requirements. Most of the federal funding from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure law is funneled to each state through their State Revolving Loan Funds (SRFs). Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin each have longstanding SRFs and have expanded the Public Drinking Water components of their SRFs to include Lead Service Line Replacement work.

Illinois: The SRF Drinking Water loan program provides low-interest loans. Drinking water projects are funded through the SRF’s Public Water Supply Loan Program component. This includes lead service line replacement projects.This is the most popular lead service line replacement funding program in Illinois because of the amount of funding available and the opportunity for principal forgiveness of some or all of the loan. In Illinois, the SRF program gives communities up to $4 million in forgivable funding for lead service line replacements. This can pay for the required project planning, design and construction engineering.

Iowa: Iowa’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is the best choice to finance the design and construction of drinking water systems to help ensure public health and provide safe drinking water for Iowans. Lead Service Line Replacement projects and all associated activities directly connected to the identification, planning, design and replacement of lead service lines are eligible for SRF funding in Iowa. Principal forgiveness opportunities are available for disadvantaged communities or public water systems serving fewer than 25,000 people.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s SRF Program has three lead service line replacement programs. They are:

  1. Public Service Commission lead service line replacement.
  2. Wisconsin DNR Safe Drinking Water Loan Program funding for replacing lead service lines under the control of the municipality.
  3. Wisconsin DNR Private Lead Service Line Replacement Program.

To learn more about how Fehr Graham’s water engineering experts can help you with lead service line replacement, contact us or give us a call at 815.394.4700.

To learn more about how Fehr Graham’s water engineering experts can help you with lead service line replacement, contact us or give us a call at 815.394.4700.