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Louisville Water says it has removed all known lead service lines

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, only eight U.S. cities have fully removed lead service lines.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Water Company announced it has removed all known lead service lines that deliver drinking water throughout the area.

In total, Louisville Water removed around 74,000 lead service lines that were installed between 1860 and 1936. The company said lead was previously used because it was both easier for crews to work with and affordable.

The company began replacing lead service lines in the 1970s, saying the greatest concentration of lead lines was in older neighborhoods established before the '30s.

"This is a proud day for our community and our employees," CEO Spencer Bruce said. "The work to replace the lead service lines started with company leaders who preceded me. We accomplished this milestone while balancing dozens of important projects; it’s been a long road, but I’m proud to carry out the vision."

While drinking water does not contain lead when it leaves treatment plants, lead can get into the water as it travels through any pipes or plumbing that contain lead.

"We know that there is no safe blood lead level for children," said Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. "Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. We are fortunate that lead in drinking water is not a public health concern in Louisville."

The company said it will reach out to around 800 customers who may have a private lead service line that should be replaced. Louisville Water said it will pay up to 50% of the cost, up to $1,500, for a licensed plumber to replace any private outdoor service lines.

"We don't often see a private lead service on a customer's property," Bruce said, "but for those older homes, occasionally we do run into them."

Customers who cannot afford their half can apply for assistance through the Louisville Water Foundation.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, only eight U.S. cities have fully removed lead service lines: Framingham and Springfield, Mass.; Parching and Lancing, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; Medford, Ore.; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Spokane, Wash. Those cities have eliminated private service lines in addition to public lines.

The Environmental Defense Fund said leaving lead pipes on private property after replacing public service lines is a concern as it can spike lead levels in the short-term and people will not see long-term benefits seen with full lead service line replacement.

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