The Denver Water utility company has announced an ambitious effort to rid the city of around 75,000 existing lead service lines between now and 2035.
The idea is to not only significantly reduce lead that through the years has seeped into the city’s extensive water system, but to also greatly eradicate the presence of orthophosphate which contributes to stream and river pollution.
The estimated $500 million program would see all existing lead pipes replaced with copper lines.
In a Denver Water press release, it is noted that “water delivered to homes and businesses in Denver is lead-free, but lead can get into water as it moves through lead-containing household plumbing and service lines that are owned by the customer.”
According to Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program Plan, lead services lines were typically installed in the city’s early suburban homes in the late 1940s and early 50s.
As such, those lines eventually became the primary source of lead found in drinking water and were officially banned by state law in 1986.
But, while Denver Water in recent decades has worked to reduce the presence of lead in drinking water, the existence of the lead service lines have minimized the effectiveness of that effort.
In response, the water company has declared as its mission the goal of identifying all of the homes within the city where such lead pipes were installed, and replacing up to 7 percent of them annually.
Before the line replacement effort can begin, it still needs to secure the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency, an approval that is expected to be granted sometime next year.
Denver Water is the public water utility for both the city and county of Denver. According to the most recent statistics, it serves more than 1.4 million people.
By Garry Boulard
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