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Lead Service FAQ

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.

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 your risk to lead in your drinking water. See our lead awareness information on the MPU website –

3. I have a lead service. Do I 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.  You DO NOT have to replace it, but the limited WDNR funds are meant to encourage you to replace it at little cost to you.

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 galavanized iron, per City Ordinance.  The average cost to replace the full water service is between $6,000 - $8,000.  The WDNR funding only covers the portion of your water service from your curb stop to the meter.  For properties that qualify for the WDNR funding, $3,000 will go towards the replacement.

6. What material are the water mains made of?

The water mains are owned by MPU and are commonly made of cast iron. Some are lead due to age.

7. The pipes 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 form and I have lead pipes. What do I do next?
MPU will contact you when your house has been chosen for a LSL replacement with DNR funds.  Note that schools and daycares are on the top of the list.

9. I live in an apartment building. Will the manager take care of this? Do I need to return the letter?
All owners have been notified.  If it is an out of state owner, please contact the local manager.  There is a box for the occupants to check that they don’t know the source. Please notify MPU if children 6 and under are in the home (as well as how many).

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: 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. Will galvanized iron be covered by DNR grant money?
The WDNR considers galvanized pipe to be similar to lead, since galvanized iron can absorb and release lead particles.

12. What do the purple lines on the Lead Service map (online) represent?
The purple lines are services SUSPECTED to be lead, based on our records.

13. 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. The property owner will contract with a pre-qualified plumber for the pipe to the home. The plumbers have different methods to replace the pipe; some by boring/tunneling, others by digging up the yard.

14. I have a lead or galvanized iron service line but did not receive or complete a survey. Can I still apply for the limited WDNR funds to replace my service line?
Yes. Simply complete the Lead Service Confirmation Survey on this website (link). You will be notified by MPU if your home has been selected for replacement using WDNR funds. All surveys will remain on file and MPU will continue to apply for WDNR funds annually as the program permits.