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.