Grant Finances Customers’ Lead Service Line Replacement
Lead in water is a public health risk, and Marshfield Utilities customers will have the opportunity to replace their lead service pipes through a new grant program awarded by the Environmental Loans Section of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“Most people are familiar with the Flint, Michigan situation, but the problem is not unique to them,” said Bob Trussoni, Marshfield Utilities General Manager. “These lead service lines exist throughout the U.S.”
Of its more than 8,000 customers, the City of Marshfield has just more than 200 lead service lines. As a rule, Marshfield Utilities has not contributed to the lead problem due to their usage of alternative materials. Instead, the problem exists in the lead service lines or in the individual homes. There is no lead in the actual water mains.
Though currently there are no laws requiring replacement of lead pipes, it is strongly encouraged due to public health and safety concerns.
“It gets more dangerous the younger the person is,” explained Trussoni. “Babies are most susceptible. Though some might argue they have been drinking their water for years and been fine, if they go to sell a home or if they have pets and/or grandkids coming over, they are putting that population is at risk.”
Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently evaluating the issue, so legal requirements may be coming.
The recent grant obtained by Marshfield Utilities (read more here) will be used to help customers replace their lead service pipes. Each customer that applies and is approved will be provided up to $2,000 of assistance from Marshfield Utilities (on a first-come, first-served basis).
Grant funding can be used only for lead service line replacement on private property that will result in full lead service line replacement on both the utility owned and customer owned sides of the water service.
“The grant money is only for the customer portion,” explained Melissa Barnes, Marshfield Utilities HR Manager. “If they don’t do it under this grant process, it’ll be entirely at their own cost.”
Customers are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to cover a significant portion of their lead service replacement costs.
“Our portion of the service will be replaced at utility cost,” explained Trussoni. “We’re hoping to get at least 150 customers to apply. If we have more, we have an application in for another grant. We’re hoping to hear back on that and do the rest of them as well. We’re expecting to start this summer and we have three years to do the project. What we’re doing is eliminating any lead service here to avoid a Flint, Michigan situation.”
Though Marshfield Utilities receives no financial benefit from this grant, the public safety gained is worth the investment they will make moving forward with the replacement process.
“The whole reason behind doing this is for the good of our customers,” said Trussoni. “We take the water quality of our system and the safety of our customers seriously. Financially we don’t benefit at all from this, but the customers do. It was done in their interest. We see this as an opportunity to improve the quality of the water.”
Barnes reiterates Marshfield Utilities dedication to their customers.
“We are a part of this community. We take pride in our work,” added Barnes. “We’re always looking for proactive ways to benefit the community and our customers, because it’s our neighbors, it’s our families, and it’s us.”
Once approved and organized, the lead service replacement takes about a day. Customers with lead service pipes will receive a letter from Marshfield Utilities in the near future, and are encouraged to contact Marshfield Utilities to begin the replacement process.
“This is an opportunity to become safer and healthier,” said Barnes.
Contact Marshfield Utilities at (715) 387-1195 with any questions.