The use of lead pipe in buildings was commonplace in construction until the 1940s. After lead materials and lead piping use was discontinued, there was still components in new construction water systems that still might have had trace levels of lead in them up until the mid-1980s.
Most health agencies agree that even small traces of lead are harmful to humans. In 1991, The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Lead and Copper Rule to minimize lead and copper in drinking water. In 2017, the Wisconsin Legislature passed Wisconsin Act 137, Leading on Lead Act. This Act created Wisconsin Statute Ch. 196.372 which creates a process by which a water public utility may provide financial assistance to a private property owner for the purpose of assisting in replacing the lead portion of the property owner service line. It also provides a process in which a city, town, or county may provide a loan for the purpose of replacing the lead portion of a property owner’s water service line.
In August, 2018, the Sun Prairie City Council created Municipal Ordinance Ch. 13.08.350- Replacement of lead service pipe. This ordinance declares that it is in the interest of the whole community to remove any lead service line from the city water distribution system and authorizes Sun Prairie Utilities to provide financial assistance to property owners to assist with the costs to replace a customer owned lead service line.
In June, 2020, The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) approved the Sun Prairie Utilities Lead Service Lateral Replacement Program (LSLRP). SPU will implement this program once approved plumber/ excavators are identified and available to start scheduling the replacement of a lead service line with property owners.
Known lead lateral sites within the SPU water distribution system shall be replaced. SPU will initiate the request by letter with an offer of financial assistance to help with property owner expenses to replace the service. To qualify for SPU financial assistance, the property owner must:
Replace the Lead Service Lateral within 36 months of the letter of offer
Utilize Contractors from the SPU Approved List of Contractors
Complete an application for financial assistance
Provide at least two bids
Provide a signed contract with the low bid contractor
Financial assistance available to property owners for LSL replacement includes either or both:
A grant to pay up to 50% of the LSL replacement cost up to a maximum of $2000
A 60-month, 0% loan for the remaining balance of the LSL replacement cost
The grant will be payable to the contractor upon satisfactorily completing the replacement. The monthly loan amount will be a line item on the monthly SPU bill and is non-transferable. If the property owner sells the property, the loan balance will be collected at the property transfer. Missed or unpaid loan installments may be assessed to the City Treasurer to be placed as a special assessment to the parcel property tax. LSL replaced after 36 months from the letter of offer will not receive any financial assistance. Neither SPU nor the City of Sun Prairie are allowed to forgive unpaid loan balances.
SPU estimates that there are about 175 lead laterals connected to the water system that will be offered financial assistance to those property owners.