Milwaukee Water Works announces new plan to accelerate lead pipe replacement

NOW: Milwaukee Water Works announces new plan to accelerate lead pipe replacement

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) announced a new plan to accelerate the city's current lead pipe replacement program. 

MMW Superintendent Patrick Pauly said the city is expecting new federal funding this fall, which will increase the number of lead service lines replaced each year moving forward. 

Milwaukee has replaced about 1,000 lead service lines each year since 2017, according to Pauly.

"There are still 65,000 lead services remaining in the system. One of the misconceptions is that we don't know where they are. We do know where they are," Pauly said.

The city anticipates replacing 1,200 lead service lines in 2023. 

Starting in 2024, the city expects to replace at least an additional 500 lead service lines each year moving forward. 

"The target was 65 to 70 years. With this funding, we're going to try to shorten that," Ald. Russell Stamper said. 

Under the Equity Prioritization Plan, city leaders say neighborhoods that need the work most will be first to get pipes replaced.

Pauly says they will balance socio-economic factors, incidences of child elevated blood lead levels and lead service line density. They will also account for segregation. 

The plan also aims to reduce the amount property owners will pay to replace their pipes.

Community members at a crowded town hall Monday night said although it's an accelerated plan, it still lacks the urgency residents are looking for.

"The plan that's been released definitely needs work, because we feel like there should be more people in the workforce plan to get this job done and we're not seeing that," COLE Executive Director Tamika Glenn said. 

COLE, Coalition on Lead Emergency, is an organization that is working to educate both MWW and the community on Milwaukee's lead crisis. 

A MWW spokesperson told CBS 58 the department has not yet learned exactly how much money the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will allocate to Milwaukee. 

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