Milwaukee's program to replace lead service lines
Milwaukee Water Works started systematically replacing lead service lines in 2017. The pipe that brings drinking water into a property from the water main in the street is a water service lines, sometimes referred to as a "lateral." Water service lines made with lead are referred to as lead service lines.
We replace an average of about 1,000 lead service lines per year. Our goal for 2023 is 1200 replacements.
The Milwaukee Code of Ordinances § 225-22.5 requires a full replacement (publicly-owned portion and privately-owned portion) of the lead service line, with copper, from the water main that runs under the street to the curb stop (city-owned) and from the curb stop to the meter (customer-owned) in the following situations.
• Child Care Facilities: A licensed group child care center, a licensed family day care center, or a certified child care home. (About 50-75 per year.)
• Emergencies: When a leak or failure is found on either the customer-owned section or the city-owned section of the lead service line. (About 500 - 550 per year.)
• Certain construction projects: When the city-owned section is replaced, including water main replacement or certain road reconstruction projects. (About 550 - 650 per year)
*Water Works proposes to add required replacements based on our Equity Prioritization Plan ranking starting in 2024.
Testing of a home's water supply for lead is available free of charge prior to and following each required lead service line replacement. Water Works will provide the resident with a sampling kit and instructions, and pick up the sample after it is collected. Kits are processed by an independent, third-party lab. Click here for sampling instructions.
Voluntary, owner-initiated replacement:
If a property owner wishes to replace the private side of the service line but the property is not scheduled for a required replacement ("owner initiated"), they must retain a licensed plumber to perform the work.
Milwaukee Water Works will provide a list of plumbers that have successfully completed lead service replacement projects for the utility, but does not recommend any specific plumber. The selected contractor will then contact Water Works to coordinate the public side replacement. (Depending on cost and schedule, the public side replacement may be performed by the selected contractor, a Water Works crew or a different private contractor retained by the Water Works.)
The property owner pays 100% of the private side cost directly to the selected contractor. (Costs can vary depending on how far a home is set back from the street.) The Water Works will pay for 100% of public side cost.
Contact leadlinerep[email protected] with questions or for more information.
Testing: Property owners or occupants can test their water for lead (and other possible contaminants) at any time by contacting an independent water quality lab and requesting a lead sampling kit. Lead sampling kits cost about $32-$100. The lab will mail the kit to you. Click here for a list of labs, or visit Northern Lake Service ($35 lead test kit), Suburban Laboratories/Metiri ($100 lead test kit), or the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene ($32 lead test kit).
Together, Let's Get the Lead Out