Des Moines to launch a new lead pipe abatement program

According to estimates by Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) provided to Axios last week, approximately 20,000 subway homes have lead water pipes that will cost more than $200 million to replace.

Why it matters: Lead is harmful and can enter water systems from pipes.

Game Status: Iowa has one of the highest estimated rates of children — 76% of children under the age of 6 — with blood lead, according to a study published last year by JAMA Pediatrics.

  • The main source of exposure is older housing.
  • Lead pipes were largely phased out before 1940, while the commercial sale of lead-based paint was banned by the federal government in 1978.

Push the news: The utility is spearheading the creation of a pilot program among metro governments to help families meet replacement costs, Jenny Puffer, director of water distribution, tells Axios.

  • The goal is to launch early next year and target the neighborhoods with the worst problems first.

What’s happening: Metro customers generally own and are responsible for the maintenance of the water line on their property. The typical cost of removing lead piping from a home is around $10,000, said Puffer.

  • State and federal grants often cover about half of the cost, but the remaining cost leaves the job out of reach for many families, Puffer said.
  • The DMWW program would try to cover much or all of the rest.

The big picture: As many as 10 million US homes and 400,000 schools get water from lead mains, White House officials estimated last year.

threat level: High.

Yes but: DSM’s water is non-corrosive and in many cases lead is not actively leaching into drinking water, Puffer said.

  • Free trials are available to most DMWW customers who own homes built before 1940.

Check your home: DMWW has released a map showing potential lead line locations in DSM, Pleasant Hill, Windsor Heights and unincorporated Polk counties.

Remarkable: People living in other communities can inquire about lead mapping with their water utility.

Service line inventories are to be completed by October 16, 2024, per federal guidelines.

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