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    Sunday, March 26, 2023

    New London shares details of plan to replace lead water lines for free

    New London ― The city is potentially months away from starting a three-year project to replace its lead water lines that serve homes, apartments and public buildings.

    Joseph Lanzafame, the city’s public utilities director, and Kate Edwards, the public outreach coordinator from civil engineering firm Arcadis, met with members of the community Wednesday to lead a presentation on the cost-free program.

    Connecticut is set to receive $150 million for the replacement of lead service lines from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and New London is first on the state’s priority list for funding. The city’s share of the funding is not yet known.

    Lanzafame said the program a preventative measure, confident that there is no lead in the city’s drinking water. Then again, he said, there was no lead in Flint, Michigan’s water until there was.

    Water in Flint became contaminated with lead and other contaminants in 2014 after the city changed water supply sources which led to pipes corroding.

    D’Shayla Hodges, a representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, explained lead is a useful metal commonly found in pipes and even paint until 1978. She said historically lead can be found in pipes in homes built before 1986.

    Although lead paint and leaded dust and soil cause most of the lead poisoning cases in the country, especially among babies and young children, 20% of people’s exposure to the highly toxic metal is through drinking water, according to the EPA.

    To limit exposure, Hodges recommended residents determine the age of their home, talk with pediatricians about exposure, clean away dust and paint chips, run water for 30 seconds before drinking it from the faucet, wash hands regularly and keep shoes at the door.

    Edwards said the city’s Lead Service Line Replacement program intends to replace lead service lines with new copper lines. A service line is the pipe that runs from the water main in the street and into the home.

    Regardless of what is city-owned or customer owned, the program offers to replace all lead pipes free of cost, pending funding availability.

    Lanzafame said the city’s utility department is waiting to hear back from the Department of Public Health on the federal and state subsidies the program will receive, and then the project will go out to bid. He said the department is also taking out a low-interest loan to ensure the program remains free for anyone who wishes to take advantage of it.

    Lanzafame said if a homeowner were to not participate in this free program, it could cost them an average of $13,000 to replace their line later on.

    She said the first phase of construction will begin in March and last until December with the same schedule repeating in 2024 and 2025.

    Lanzafame said the city has predicted there are 2,450 lead service lines that will need replacing, although some are pieces of the lines and not the full lines.

    Edwards showed a map with the identified lead service lines and said the city will prioritize areas that are more economically depressed. She said homeowners can do their own testing on pipes with kits they can purchase.

    Edwards said the service lines will be replaced one street at a time. She said residents will be notified two weeks before the replacement so their property can be inspected.

    She asked the public to sign agreement forms to participate in the program. The form can be found at leadfreenewlondon.com and mailed or dropped at the New London Water & Sewer Department at 15 Masonic St.

    During questions, residents asked how they could get someone from the city to test the pipes in their home. Edwards said residents could email leadfreenewlondon@arcadis.com or call 203-427-8144.

    Another resident asked what impact the project would have on water rates. Lanzafame said he doesn’t know the exact impact but the city would work to keep rates low.


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