Lead Service FAQ

A cracked pipe in the ground

The non-compliance of current lead regulations in Flint, Michigan in 2016 has raised concerns within the EPA and WDNR on lead water services. In particular, it has been demonstrated that the potential for increased lead levels exist when fixing a leaking lead service or when only part of a lead water service is replaced. Due to this experience in Flint, Michigan, the AWWA and several other organizations have issued policy statements that the goal of all water utilities must be to remove all lead material water service lines. The WDNR has developed a pro-active approach and approved Principal Forgiveness (PF) funds for municipalities to replace customer-owned lead service lines (LSL) that will result in the complete replacement of the LSL. MPU applied and qualified for principal forgiveness funding for 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2022.

MPU is currently applying for similar LSL assistance from the WDNR for 2024 and beyond. We hope to have more information on future LSL funding in August 2023.

MPU was also approved to provide a LSL Replacement Loan Program for customers by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in late 2019.

1. What is a water service?
A water service is the small pipe that connects the watermain to your home. It is entirely owned by the property owner. It is commonly made of copper, lead, galvanized iron, or plastic.
2. I have a lead service. Is the water safe to drink?
Yes. Lead is not found in Manitowoc’s source water (Lake Michigan) or the treatment plant. Lead comes from the water service lines running between the water main in the street and the home, and from plumbing inside the home. When water stands for several hours or more in fixtures or pipes that contain lead, the lead may leach into the water. MPU needs to comply with the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule. MPU is required to collect lead and copper samples from private residences to monitor the lead and copper action levels. MPU also uses a polyphosphate for corrosion control – a method allowed by EPA to control lead and copper corrosion. If the lead samples exceed the EPA lead action level, MPU is required to advise all water customers of the various ways you can use to reduce the risk of lead in your drinking water. See our lead awareness information on the MPU website – www.mpu.org/lead.
3. I have a lead service. Do I have to replace it?
Lead or galvanized iron water services are required to be replaced under certain circumstances: if they are leaking, or whenever a public works project may impact the water lines. See City of Manitowoc Municipal Code 17.090 (4) (c).

Even if you do not have to replace it, if any part of your water service is made of lead or galvanized iron, it is recommended to replace your water service. MPU offers a low interest loan program to replace lead service lines.

4. How do I determine what material my water service is?
We have guidance on the MPU website by clicking this link. If you are unable to identify your service material, a plumber can assist you.
5. How much will this cost me?
In the City of Manitowoc the property owner owns the entire water service from the watermain to the meter in the home. If you replace the lead service line, the full service must be replaced from the watermain to meter if lead or galvanized iron, per City Ordinance. The average cost to replace the full water service is between $6,000 – $8,000.
6. What material are the water mains made of?
The water mains are owned by MPU and are commonly made of cast iron, ductile iron, and PVC.
7. The pipes and water services are underground. How do I know what they are made of?
Customers should go into their basement and look at the pipe between the water meter and the floor/wall. This pipe will be what the piping to the street is. Some homes have been re-plumbed but the plumbing between the home and the street was not updated and this is what should be checked.
8. I completed the Lead Confirmation Survey and I have lead pipes. What do I do next?
If you wish to proceed with a LSL replacement, you can apply for a low interest loan from MPU. View more about the program here: https://www.mpu.org/lead/loan-program.
9. I live in an apartment building. Will the manager replace any lead lines?
All owners of properties with a suspected lead service line have been notified of the benefits of replacing the LSL. Please contact your local apartment manager or landlord.
10. How can I go about having my home’s drinking water tested for lead?
There are several certified drinking water testing laboratories in Wisconsin. Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/DrinkingWater/laboratories.html to locate a facility. Be sure to contact the laboratory before taking a sample, since specific instructions need to be followed to achieve meaningful and accurate results. Also, avoid off-the-shelf test kits. These kits are meant to be more of a screening tool, and do not provide the accuracy that a certified laboratory will give you.
11. What do the purple lines on the Lead Service map represent?
The purple lines are services SUSPECTED to be lead, or galvanized iron, based on our historical records.
12. Will you bore/tunnel to replace the pipe or will the yard be dug up to the house?
MPU will not be performing any work on customer property. If you wish to replace your LSL, the property owner will contract with a plumber to replace the pipe from the watermain to the home. The plumbers have different methods to replace the pipe; some by boring/tunneling, others by digging up the yard.



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