Kenosha Water Utility
Lead Service Program
WHAT IS LEAD?
Lead is a metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. Exposure to lead has been linked to adverse health effects in infants, young children, and pregnant women, and is potentially harmful to adults. Children under the age of six are the most at risk because their brains are still developing.
The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint in older homes. Wisconsin drinking water sources have little to no measurable lead. However, water service lines and old plumbing fixtures made of lead have the potential to leach lead into drinking water. Disturbing or reconnecting to an existing lead water service line may increase lead levels in drinking water.
HOW DO I REDUCE LEAD EXPOSURE?
Currently, the Kenosha Water Utility (KWU) adds orthophosphate to the water which adheres to lead and creates a coating on the inside of the pipe. This aids in preventing lead from leaching in to the water when it is stagnant. Homeowners can choose to take the following additional measures to reduce lead exposure:
- Have your lead service replaced;
- Use a water filter for drinking water - KWU will provide one to homes with a confirmed lead service;
- If you have a lead service line, flush your water until the line is cleared of stagnant water (about 3-5 minutes);
- Clean faucet aerators regularly;
- Use only fresh cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula.
Please see the links below for more information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI-DNR):
WHY DOES KWU NEED CUSTOMER SERVICE LINE INFORMATION?
The WI-DNR is requiring that we inventory all customer-side water service material types to determine how many lead services we have in our system. Until this point, reporting has been voluntary, and data has been gathered by KWU staff as they enter a home to replace a water meter. In October of 2024, we will be required to report this information to the WI-DNR.
WHAT DOES A LEAD SERVICE LINE LOOK LIKE?
The picture below shows the different material types of water services. Galvanized and lead can look very similar, but galvanized is magnetic. A magnet will adhere to a galvanized pipe but will not adhere to lead, plastic, or copper.
Lead is a dull gray metal that is soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key (see left picture below) and a lead water service typically has an oval bulb (see circled portion of right picture below). Please email a picture of your water service line prior to the water meter (see right picture below) to . If you are unsure or don’t have the ability to send a picture please call the Kenosha Water Utility at (262) 653-4315 to schedule a home visit.
WHAT HOMES WILL LIKELY HAVE LEAD SERVICE LINES?
Approximately 9,000 properties in the Kenosha Water Utility service area constructed before 1947 may have lead service lines. Buildings in Kenosha constructed after 1947 typically do not have lead service lines.
WHAT ARE TYPICAL LEAD test RESULTS?
Every three years the WI-DNR requires KWU to conduct lead and copper testing. Based on the City of Kenosha’s population we perform testing in 30 homes. These results are posted in our consumer confidence report which can be found here. During the last round of testing, in 2020, the highest result was 7.80 parts per billion and none of the samples were above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion.
IS LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT A REQUIREMENT?
All property owners will be required to replace their lead service line eventually. However, there are currently three scenarios where lead service line replacement is mandatory:
- On roads that are scheduled for reconstruction, it is mandated that lead services are replaced in advance of the roadway construction;
- If there is a leak on the customer side of the lead water service pipe it cannot be repaired and must be replaced with an approved material;
- If there is a leak on the public side of the lead water service pipe and it is connected to lead on the customer side, the customer side must be replaced within 45 days after the public side has been replaced by KWU.
WHAT IS THE LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM?
In 2018 the State Legislature enacted 2017 Wisconsin Act 137, which allowed a utility to provide financial assistance to the owner of a property for the purpose of assisting the owner in replacing a customer-side water service line containing lead. The Board of Water Commissioners and the Common Council of Kenosha determined that it was in the public’s best interest to establish a comprehensive program for removing and replacing all lead service lines within and connected to the KWU water distribution system. The ordinance governing this is Rule 06-06 of Chapter XXXII of the Code of General Ordinances.
KWU was the first utility in the State of Wisconsin to seek approval to replace customer-side lead water services from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin under the provision of Act 137. Act 137, however, limited the financial contribution a utility could provide in the form of a grant to replace a customer-side water service line containing lead. Wisconsin Statute §196.372(3)(e)2.a dictates “Grants that are provided as financial assistance to an owner are limited to no more than one-half of the total cost to the owner of replacing the customer-side water service line containing lead.”
KWU received approval to implement its Lead Service Line Replacement Program (LSRP) as a grant to homeowners. This grant will cover 50% of the cost, up to a maximum of $2,000, of replacing the customer-side lead water service. In addition, the remaining amount of the cost can be a low interest (3%) loan from KWU to the property owner. This loan is paid back over a 10 year period and is collected annually via City property taxes.
With this program, KWU will replace our section of the lead water service pipe from the curb stop in the parkway to the water main in the street. The property owner will hire a pre-approved plumbing contractor to replace the customer-side lead water service pipe. This pipe extends from the curb stop in the parkway to the water meter in the basement of the home. An illustration of the two sides of a water service pipe is shown below:
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM (LSRP)?
All property owners who have homes with lead services are eligible for the program. LSRP funds are budgeted annually and will be awarded on June 30th to homes that have completed all required paperwork. Kenosha’s ordinance requires that financial assistance be granted to the eligible property owners in accordance with the following priorities:
- Properties with leaking or failed customer-side or Utility-side service lines.
- Properties where KWU is replacing the Utility-side service line on either a planned or emergency basis.
- Properties where the General Manager has determined that replacing a customer-side service line is in the best interest of health and safety.
- Properties with licensed child care facilities and schools.
- Properties where children under the age of seven (7) or pregnant women reside.
- All remaining properties with customer-side lead service lines.
HOW DO I GET SIGNED UP FOR THE LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM?
Homeowners can sign up for the program by taking the following steps:
- The homeowner sends a picture of their service to and provides their property address and preferred contact information.
- KWU confirms if the water service material is lead and prioritizes the replacement based on the criteria listed above.
- If funding is available for the property, KWU sends paperwork to the homeowner to get quotes from a contractor to complete the service replacement. The homeowner will get multiple quotes and determines their preferred method of construction.
- All paperwork is submitted to KWU for approval with both the homeowner’s and contractor’s signatures.
- KWU signs paperwork as approved and sends to the homeowner and contractor for scheduling.
- The work is then scheduled between the homeowner and the contractor and completed. The homeowner signs the paperwork approving of the completed work and submits to KWU and the contractor to allow payment from KWU to contractor.