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Gov. Scott Walker recently announced that 35 municipalities, including Cudahy and St. Francis, have received funding to remove old lead service lines that can endanger drinking water.

A total of $13.8 million is being distributed statewide, with Cudahy and St. Francis each receiving $300,000, under financial assistance agreements with the state that will allow those communities to assist homeowners, schools, and day cares in providing safe drinking water by replacing those lead service lines.

These aging lead service lines extend from the main street pipes owned by local utilities onto private property and into homes, schools, and day care centers.

Safer water

The lines are the responsibility of the property owner who typically would have to pay for full lead service line removal. With this fiscal year’s funding package totaling $13.8 million, communities can help property owners fully replace those lines to provide safe drinking water for families and children.

The Lead Service Line Replacement Funding program reflects the administration’s commitment to safe drinking water and addresses the financial barriers facing communities where lead service lines continue to deliver drinking water to customers, Walker said in a press release.

“Safe drinking water is critical to the health and well-being of everyone in Wisconsin, and this program is working to help address community needs,” Walker said. “We applaud the work being done in communities across our state to identify old lead service lines and remove them.”

Funding freedom

The DNR conceived the funding program last year following a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow the state greater flexibility in allocating loan funds for water infrastructure projects.

Under the program, municipalities determine how to distribute the funds. Funding for LSL replacement on private property is in the form of Principal Forgiveness (PF), which means no debt is incurred on behalf of the municipality for these funds.

“The lead service line replacement program represents one of the many ways DNR partners with communities to manage our water resources and protect public health,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “These cooperative efforts involving the state, local governments, and skilled private contractors serve as a model for what we can accomplish together.”

The 35 municipalities represent all parts of the state, with Milwaukee receiving the largest award of $2.6 million. Another $13 million in lead service line replacement funding will be available in the next fiscal year, and 41 communities have indicated they will be filing applications.

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