Port hires firm to start replacing lead service laterals

By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Board of Public Works hired VanRite Plumbing recently to replace lead service laterals in the city.

The Green Bay firm was the low bidder, coming in at $148,085, roughly 36% less than the city expected, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

The company will replace lead service lines leading from the street to individual houses as part of a pilot program being implemented by the city.

So far, 17 homeowners have signed up for the program, the board learned Aug. 9. Those homeowners live on Park Street, which the city is rebuilding this year, and along the streets that were rebuilt in 2017, including portions of Larabee, Harrison, Milwaukee, Dodge and Walters streets.

The program, which is being funded by a $200,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources, is expected to replace as many as 35 lead services this year.

“I’m optimistic we can do up to 35 houses with the budget we have,” Vanden Noven said. “If we have to do more outreach (to reach that number), we will.

“We will spend the full amount of the grant.”

The city has reached out to 77 homeowners so far, he noted.

The grant money will pay to replace the pipes between the city’s water laterals and the house, as well as restoration work in the yard.

The program is voluntary, but Vanden Noven said it is a bonus for homeowners.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for residents. Anytime a person can eliminate lead from their plumbing system, it’s a real plus — and to do it at no cost to the homeowner? It’s a fantastic deal.”

There are an estimated 880 houses in the city with lead service pipes, and officials said homes built before 1950 are likely to have these lead service pipes while subdivisions constructed after 1986 don’t typically have them.

Officials have said they plan to continue the lead pipe replacement program in the future, depending on funding.

Lead is not found in the city’s drinking water, but it can be released into water when it stands for several hours in pipes that contain lead. Port’s drinking water is treated with a compound that forms a protective coating on pipes to help protect it from lead, but experts agree that the best approach is to replace lead pipes, officials said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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