Olathe considers $3M loan for lead pipe replacement project

OLATHE, Kan. – Federal money could soon help remove lead pipes from homes in Olathe.

On Tuesday, the Olathe City Council will consider a resolution to apply for a public water supply loan from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

The City Council will consider requesting up to $3,162,000 in funding to support the citywide lead and galvanized pipe replacement. If the loan is approved, the money would be used to replace water supply lines in areas of the city where the poverty rate exceeds 11.4%.

  • Neighborhood poverty rate map
  • Map of the census districts of Olathe

Kansas received $164 million for power line replacement through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will be distributed through the State Revolving Fund (SRF). The SRF is a federal and state program that offers cities financial support for the expansion of water infrastructure through low-interest loans.

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Approximately 51% of the loan will be paid from the city’s water and sanitation fund. According to city records, SRF is forgiving 49% of the loan for eligible replacements. Homeowners are not charged for water pipe replacements.

Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released updated lead and copper regulations (LCRR) amendments to protect communities from lead exposure. The City of Olathe currently conforms to the original LCRR standards, but additional work is required to meet the new federal requirements.

To remain compliant, the city must:

  • Submit an inventory of all water supply lines to KDHE by October 16, 2024.
  • Send an annual letter to homeowners with service lines that contain lead or unknown materials
  • Sample water in 20% of schools and childcare facilities annually for the next five years.
  • Create a backup plan for leading service lines by October 2024.

The city of Olathe has 9,994 water services and city crews have so far identified 83 lead and galvanized water services within the proposed project area. City crews must assess the remaining 9,111 water supply lines before the October 16, 2024 deadline to qualify for funding from the SRF.

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City spokesman Cody Kennedy said city crews are replacing lead water supply lines once they are identified and will have a more accurate timeline for the project once the full inventory is complete. Kennedy said much of the lead pipe replacement work will likely occur in 2023 and 2024.

Under LCRR guidelines, the city is required to replace at least 3% of leading service lines annually.

The City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on applying for the loan during its next meeting on Tuesday, October 18 at 7 p.m City website.

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