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Green Bay Water Utility Plans to Eradicate City's Lead Pipes By December 2020 - WFRV (posted October 22, 2018)

GREEN BAY, Wis.(WFRV) - Green Bay Water Utility is working toward its goal of removing all of the city's lead pipes by December 2020, and replacing them with either copper or plastic ones. 

After it was discovered that drinking water was contaminated in Flint, Michigan from lead pipes,  Green Bay Water Utility took a hard look at how many of them were left in Green Bay.

"It was a very big deal in the water industry," Brian Powell, the engineering services manager for Green Bay Water Utility, said. 

Green Bay Water Utility created a five-year plan to remove all the known lead pipes from the city, starting in 2016. 

In January 2016, there were 1,782 publicly-used lead pipes in Green Bay.

Today, that number is down to about 700. 

"We've taken out almost 1,100 lead services in a little over two-and-a-half years," Powell said.

There is one barrier stopping Green Bay Water Utility from eradicating all the lead pipes: homeowners. 

When you buy a home, you also become the owner of the pipes underneath it.

Green Bay Water Utility spared many homeowners' the cost of replacing them by using funds from both the DNR and the city of Green Bay.

"It's almost $5,000 to replace a private-side lead service, so that's quite a burden on the homeowner," Powell added. 

While Green Bay Water Utility has notified homeowners multiple times that they have lead pipes, a few have chosen to ignore the warnings.

Green bay Water Utility has removed 201 lead pipes from underneath private properties, with 24 more to go. 

There are some houses out there that may have lead pipes that Green Bay Water Utility doesn't know about, because the homeowners won't let them check. 

"Give us a call, the first thing we do is check our records, you know, we may have already been there, and verified what they have," Powell explained. "We would gladly tell them what they have, if it's unknown, we go out there and check it, because there are still homes that we want to get in that haven't been able to get into."

Despite a little resistance from some property owners, leaders at Green Bay Water Utility said they are on track to have all lead pipes they are aware of removed and replaced with copper or plastic ones by December 2020. 

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