Lead Pipes in Milwaukee: What's Happened Over The Past Year

Sep 14, 2017

Update:  Since the story aired, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works provided the folowing information:

Milwaukee's final 2017 budget approved by the Common Council adjusted the year's eplacement targets to 300 day cares and 300 residential properties. DPW reports 355 replacements have been completed, 135 more are scheduled.  The department it will replace 600 lines by year's end.    

Original Post: Mayor Tom Barrett called this year's budget the starting point for removing lead pipes throughout the city.  

"(We’re allocating) $5.2 million in 2016 and 2017 to remove lines at 385 licensed day care facilities and also funding to replace approximately 300 existing residential lines when they leak or fail,” Barrett said back in September of 2016.

So far, the Department of Public Works has completed 344 lines, and expects to complete a total of 480 new lines by year’s end. That’s about 70 percent of Barrett’s initial goal.

But these numbers are just a drop in the bucket. Milwaukee is thought to have between 70,000 - 82,000 lead service lines. City leaders have said nothing about formulating a long-range plan to replace a yet unclear number of remaining lead pipes.

WUWM's Susan Bence looks back over the past year to see how the conversations regarding, and the removal of, lead laterals have progressed.

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