@DenverWater on schedule for lead pipe replacement, awaiting additional federal approval — The #Denver Post

Denver Water crews dug up old lead service lines from customers’ homes for years of study that led to the utility’s Lead Reduction Program. Photo credit: Denver Water.

Click the link to read the article on The Denver Post website (Conrad Swanson). Here’s an excerpt:

The Environmental Protection Agency said the utility has succeeded in its three-year trial program and should be allowed to finish its 15-year program

Denver Water’s plan to replace tens of thousands of lead pipes connecting homes to the city’s water supply is working well enough to move past the trial phase, federal officials said. Environmental Protection Agency officials gave the utility three years in late 2019 to try its unique approach of replacing lead service lines, home by home, while changing the chemistry of its water supply to keep lead levels low. In that time, Denver Water has replaced thousands of lead service lines and kept levels of the toxic, heavy metal in its water supply at a fraction of the allowable federal limits, Sarah Bahrman, chief of the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Branch, said. Bahrman said EPA officials are recommending that Denver Water be allowed to finish the remaining 12 years of its replacement plan, a decision that EPA Region 8 Administrator KC Becker is expected to make in the coming weeks.

Denver Water officials originally estimated that between 64,000 and 84,000 homes received water through lead service lines and that replacing them would cost about $500 million and take 15 years. Considering inflation, supply chain shortages and more, Alexis Woodrow, the utility’s lead reduction program manager, said the new cost estimate for the life of the program is more likely to be $681 million…

Denver Water needed approval from the EPA because CEO and Manager Jim Lochhead pushed back on a mandate from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which originally ordered the utility to inject a nutrient – orthophosphate – into its water system. Lochhead argued that orthophosphate could pose a health risk for metro residents and downstream communities. Instead he proposed to send water filters to homes that might have lead service lines, replace the service lines themselves and to slightly boost the water’s alkalinity to stop the heavy metal from breaking off into the water supply.

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