Street projects give Citizens Energy Group chance to replace lead pipes – Indianapolis Business Journal

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Lead pipes along several streets in Indianapolis will be replaced as part of a major road renovation through a collaboration between the City of Indianapolis and Citizens Energy Group.

As Indianapolis Department of Public Works teams break ground on major road projects, Citizens Energy Group will seize the opportunity to replace customer-owned utilities with upgraded infrastructure.

It's part of a larger Citizens initiative to replace lead pipes in Indianapolis that began in 2022. Lead pipes were common until the 1950s, so the utility only has estimates of how many remain.

Citizens estimates that this will eliminate approximately 55,000 to 75,000 customer-owned lead service lines over a period of several years. It was not immediately known how much this project would cost.

Jeffrey Harrison, CEO of Citizens Energy Group, said work that began last year to replace 400 main service lines will be accelerated in 2024, including through collaboration with Indy DPW.

“With this approach, we hope to replace leading service lines more quickly to prevent the roadway from being impacted more than once and to return operations to normal in this neighborhood as quickly as possible,” Harrison said.

He added that the water in Citizens reservoirs, water treatment plants and distribution systems does not contain lead and Citizens has no active lead water pipes.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, low levels of lead exposure in children have been linked to central and peripheral nervous system damage, learning disabilities, short stature, hearing impairment, and impaired blood cell formation and function.

“We are taking a step in the right direction to ensure that clean and safe water is guaranteed for every household in our city and that there is no risk of contamination in the future,” said city-district president Vop Osili.

In the spring, Citizens will launch a “large, proactive” program to replace lead pipes in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood.

Citizens' work will take place as Indianapolis converts Michigan and New York roads from one-way to two-way. The city will also use $25 million in federal funding to convert portions of eight additional one-way streets to one-way streets.

Brandon Herget, director of the Department of Public Works, said these projects, along with IndyGo's rapid transit lines that slow or “calm” traffic, will help improve road safety.

“Amid a pedestrian safety crisis, our city and DPW are working diligently to remove aging, overbuilt, mid-20th century infrastructure and selfish driving on our neighborhood streets,” Herget said.

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