Mills: Getting the lead out of our water

Mills: Getting the lead out of our water.
Though major health consequences thankfully have been rare so far, we’re nearing a crisis point of our own.
The objection stems from the proposal to make water utilities responsible for covering costs of replacing lead service lines (which at least 176,000 Wisconsin water customers have, half in Milwaukee County alone).
Currently, the law only allows utilities to replace pipes up to property lines, leaving homeowners responsible for the cost of replacing the rest.
But the state placed limits on local property taxes in 2006, and further tightened the restrictions in 2011, making it cost prohibitive for cities to take on pipe replacement projects.
WMC tried to use Madison as an example of a city that had done it, but Madison actually represents why this can’t be left entirely up to cities.
Madison first found high levels of lead in its drinking water in the early 1990s, but it took until 2001 to begin a project to replace them.
That only came after what’s been described as a “bruising” political fight over how to pay for work on private property (which this new bill addresses).
Thankfully, Madison was also able to start its project before those state limits on property taxes went into place, and it was completed in 2007.
Meanwhile, the city of Milwaukee estimates it will take 50 years to replace all of its lead pipes.

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