News Feature | January 16, 2017

Collaborative Launches New Tool To Stop Lead Contamination

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Water utilities hoping to decrease the threat of lead contamination are part of a new collaboration that aims to get lead pipes replaced.

“Nearly two dozen environmental, health, consumer and water utility groups are uniting to help communities replace old lead pipes that are the primary culprit behind the lead contamination of millions of Americans' drinking water,” USA Today reported.

“The Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative won’t change out the pipes itself. But starting this week, it will provide communities with advice and tools to speed up pipe replacement,” the report continued.

Collaborative members include the American Water Works Association, the Water Research Foundation, the National Rural Water Association, the National Association of Water Companies, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies.

The collaborative announced that it released a toolkit aimed at helping water utilities and communities replace lead service lines:

The Collaborative’s toolkit includes a roadmap for getting started, suggested practices to identify and remove lead service lines in a safe, equitable, and cost-effective manner, policies that federal and state leaders could adopt to support local efforts, and links to additional resources that may be helpful when developing local programs. The toolkit is intended to be a living resource, and the Collaborative is seeking communities to pilot and provide feedback on the materials.

In a sweeping investigation into lead contamination in the U.S., titled “Beyond Flint,” USA Today identified “almost 2,000 additional water systems spanning all 50 states where testing has shown excessive levels of lead contamination over the past four years.”

Rural water system are dogged by some of the most difficult lead contamination in the country. Laura Ungar, the lead reporter for the USA Today investigation, told PBS Newshour: “We wanted to look at the problem beyond Flint and look to see just how big the scope was. And so, basically, we looked at where the problem was the worst, and we found that, in these small water systems, which are generally located in rural areas, small, remote communities.”