Anne Hirekatur on two stages of removing lead pipes to homes

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources section manager Anne Hirekatur describes how utilities and property owners incur separate costs to replace lead service lines from water mains to buildings.

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now

December 19, 2023

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Anne Hirekatur:
When you talk about removing a lead pipe, you're actually talking about removing two parts of the pipe. So typically, you know, the lead service line that brings the water from the water main into your home is composed of two parts. The part that runs from the water main to the curb is owned by the water utility. And then the part that goes from the curb into your building inlet, lot of times it'll come into homeowner basement, that's typically owned by the property owner. So it's relatively easy for a water system to remove a lead service line on their side of it because when they tear up the road to replace a water main or do other utility work, they can just remove a whole neighborhood worth of lead service lines at once. It's a lot more difficult for the private side because typically the property owner is responsible for paying for that removal. And right now in Wisconsin, the average cost of a private side lead service line removal is about $4,200 per service line. But however, even in cases where there's funding to pay for the private side removal, a lot of homeowners are hesitant to remove their lead service line because they don't wanna disturb their landscaping or they don't want someone coming inside their home to do the work.

Nathan Denzin:
So you're saying that the biggest hurdle really is on the homeowner or the private side and not the state or federal government side or city government.

Anne Hirekatur:
Well, the water utility side is it's still a hurdle but it's typically easier than the private side. Like, even if a water utility has the funding and the will to remove all of the utility side lead service lines, you know, in most cases they can't force a private homeowner to remove their side.

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