This letter is a follow up to the email I sent to you on Sept. 6, in which the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) called for a moratorium on the practice of partial lead service line removal currently being done by the City of Milwaukee.
As you know, the Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) has conducted over 200 partial lead service line removals, according to Carrie Lewis, superintendent of MWW.
As you also know, partial lead service line removals have been deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board in its September 2011 report to negatively affect the quality of drinking and cooking water. The SAB concluded that partial lead service line removals increase lead contamination in affected households.
In fact, the report conclusion states: “[B]ased on the current scientific data, [partial replacements] have not been shown to reliably reduce drinking water lead levels in the short term. … Additionally, [partial replacement] is frequently associated with short-term elevated drinking water lead levels for some period of time after replacement, suggesting the potential for harm, rather than benefit during that time period.”
The City of Milwaukee Water Works continues the practice of partial lead service line removals when there is an emergency or a leak in the water line.
This practice continues despite the fact that Lewis stated in front of members of the Common Council, during public hearings, that the city is no longer going to do partial lead service line removals when they need to repair a leak or another emergency arises. Lewis has stated that rather than doing a partial lead service line removal the city will remove the entire water service line.
In fact, during the September 2016 Rules and Steering Committee meeting, a representative of your office gave a PowerPoint presentation and informed the committee that “when leaks are encountered on a utility owned or privately owned portion of [a] lead service line, the entire service line will be replaced.”
Recently, I encountered a MWW work crew doing a partial lead service line removal. The crew was working on a lead service line that belongs to property located at 824 W. Wright St. MWW representative Sandra Rusch Walton informed me that the line was partially removed because of a leak. While precaution to ensure the prevention of galvanic corrosion was taken, the fact remains that the pipe was disturbed due to the work done to remove the city side of the lead service line.
The practice of partial lead service line removal led the American Academy of Pediatrics to write the EPA a letter in 2011 in which the organization expressed its concerns regarding partial lead service line removals. The letter noted that drinking water is an especially significant source of lead for infants and children, and that “living in a home with partially replaced service line significantly increase [sic] a child’s risk for elevated blood lead levels, as compared to a home with an intact lead service line or no service line.”
Once again FLAC is calling on your administration to stop all partial lead service line removals. Studies overwhelmingly show the practice of partial lead service line removal is dangerous to the health of our community.
Nobody chooses unsafe water, but many poor and fixed-income Milwaukeeans really don’t have a choice; maybe that’s why some homeowners accept the unsafe water. Families should not have to choose between getting unsafe water or paying to get safe water.
FLAC calls on you to enforce a moratorium on partial lead service line removals immediately. Thank you for your attention.