Green Bay To Step Up Lead Pipe Replacement Efforts

Water Utility Will Install Plastic Pipes For Over 1,700 Homes


The Green Bay Water Utility is amping up an effort to replace lead pipes that connect more than 1,700 homes, partly in response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

For years, the utility has been replacing lead pipes during road construction. Now, General Manager Nancy Quirk said they’re picking up steam. She said the work of replacing the lead pipes with plastic ones will cost up to $10 million over as many as five years.

Quirk said that she noticed a spike in lead levels after the service stopped using a phosphate-based chemical designed to reduce corrosion in lead pipes in 2011. She said phosphorous can create “dead zones” in nearby bodies of water.

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“Those ‘dead zones’ are created with zero oxygen coming from phosphorous loadings and runoffs in the Fox River that run north to the Great Lakes and the Bay of Green Bay,” she said.

Quirk also said the Green Bay Water Utility is pursuing grants so affected homeowners can replace lead pipes that connect from the city lines to their water meters.

Meanwhile, she advises people with lead pipes to run their water for a few minutes before drinking or cooking with it.

Cities across Wisconsin — like Madison, Kaukauna, and Wausau — are either working on or have finished similar projects. In Green Bay, all ratepayers, not just those with the lead connections, will pay for the project.