Program intended to replace 486 connections over 2 to 3 years
Marlene Feist, City of Spokane Public Works & Utilities, (509) 625-6505
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 2:30 p.m.
With national and statewide attention on lead in drinking water, the City of Spokane today is announcing a program to replace the remaining 486 lead service lines in the City’s water system over the next two to three years.
“Removing the lead connections in our system just makes sense,” says Mayor David Condon. “Protecting public health has to be the priority, and we’re taking a sensible action to reduce health risks for some residents.”
The City’s water system has routinely met all water quality standards for lead, determined through regular mandatory testing for lead in the City’s water system including at homes with lead service lines. Water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer is less corrosive than most surface water sources because it is hard and not acidic. Still, removing the pipes eliminates a potential contamination source.
“We have excellent water from our aquifer that meets and exceeds all water quality standards,” says Dan Kegley, the City’s Water Director. “For us, the replacement program really is a statement of our values as a drinking water provider to our community. It’s the right thing to do.”
The program will replace the lead service lines, which represent less than one percent of the City’s 75,000 service connections, with copper pipe. Lead service lines were installed in the early to mid-1940s when World War II efforts made other materials scarce; many of the lead connections are found in the Shadle area of Northwest Spokane.
Service lines connect the water distribution main in the street to the water meter at a home or business. In most cases, lead is found only on the City’s side of the service line, but if the lead service line continues onto private property, it will be replaced as well.
Originally, the City had nearly 1,000 lead service lines, but efforts to remove those pipes over the years cut that number in half. The City has had a long-standing policy to remove lead pipes and parts made of lead whenever work is being done.
The replacement program will begin immediately. Fourteen lead service connections are being replaced as part of a project to reconstruct Rowan Avenue between Driscoll Boulevard and Monroe Street. Additionally, the City is preparing a letter to go to each homeowner with a lead service line, explaining the program.
The City’s Water Department estimates the replacement program will cost up to $3 million. Funding planned for long service line replacements will be reprioritized to this project, and the City will seek grants to help pay for the work. Department officials say they will coordinate with homeowners to get access to the meter and ensure that all lead material is found and replaced. There is no cost to the homeowner.
If citizens want to find out if they have a lead service line now, they can look up the information on the City’s web site or by calling the Water Department at 625-7800. Here are the steps to use the on-line map:
For residents with lead service lines, the Washington State Department of Health suggests a few simple steps to reduce the risk of ingesting lead through drinking water: