Bill would Let Utilities Finance Lead Line Replacements

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican chairman of the state Senate's Natural Resources Committee wants to give water utilities the authority to offer customers low interest loans or other forms of financial assistance to replace dangerous lead services lines.

Sen. Robert Cowles introduced a bill Thursday that would let municipalities and water utilities decide if they want to offer such arrangements to customers with lead service lines. The municipality would need to pass an ordinance granting the water utility authority. The financing could come in many forms, including low-interest or no-interest loans, customer cost-sharing or an income threshold for qualifications.

Wisconsin has at least 176,000 homes with lead service lines, with about half in Milwaukee. Drinking or cooking with lead-tainted water can cause brain damage to young children.

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