MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signed on Tuesday, December 20th the ordinance authorizing the replacement of lead water service lines and creating a special assessment for lead water service lines on private properties. It's a project expected to take years, and homeowners will foot part of the bill.
The Milwaukee Common Council approved the ordinance with a 12-3 vote on December 13th.
Under the approved ordinance, Milwaukee Water Works will replace leaking or damaged lead service lines at eligible residential properties (1-4 units) and, using federal government monies administered through the state Department of Natural Resources, plans to replace lead service lines with copper at 385 licensed child cares and eight private schools in 2017 -- with work set to begin in the spring.
"Minimizing exposure from lead in drinking water by assuring that proper water treatment is maintained is also a high priority. As we all know, this is what Flint did NOT do," Barrett said.
Egypt Grant took his infant son to the doctor a few years back after noticing issues with his development.
"We lived in an old house on Burleigh. They said he had high levels of lead in his blood," Grant said.
Grant said the boy is fine now.
"It was stressful, you know, dealing with stuff like that," Grant said.
Situations like that are why Mayor Barrett said this work needs to be done.
"We are trying to do everything we can as a community to remove lead from any human body in the city," Barrett said.
"Your health's more important than anything, so it's a great investment I think," Grant said.
The property owners' share of the cost is estimated at around $1,600 -- and can be paid over 10 years. It'll average $16/month for each property.
There is no subsidy for owners of either residential properties with more than four units or commercial properties. They will be required to replace a leaking or damaged lead service line with copper at their expense.
There are approximately 300 leaks on lead service lines each year in Milwaukee, which is the approximate number covered in the 2017 plan.
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