Louisville Water increases funding to replace lead service lines

Louisville Water increases funding to replace lead service lines
November 28, 2016

Board of Water Works approves 2017 projects and water rates  

Residents in neighborhoods across Louisville Metro will see Louisville Water construction crews more frequently as the utility accelerates work to remove its remaining lead service lines.

Today, the Board of Water Works, the governing body for Louisville Water approved spending $5.9 million in 2017 to continue replacing the utility's lead service lines. Louisville Water plans to replace approximately 2,000 of its lead service lines next year with a copper line.  The projects will be scattered across the Louisville area. 

Louisville Water began operations in 1860 and until the 1950s it was common for water utilities to use lead service lines to connect to a property owner's exterior water line.  Louisville Water began to replace its lead service lines in the 1980s. Today less than 3% of Louisville Water's 281,000 residential service lines are lead.

Louisville Water wants to eliminate its remaining lead service lines, approximately 7,300 by 2020 and to do that, the Board has approved increased annual funding.   As it relates to drinking water, lead is not a health concern for Louisville Water customers but lead can become a potential risk as water travels through plumbing materials.  Louisville Water first manages the chemistry of the water to minimize the risk for particles to dissolve in water and then as the utility replaces its lead service lines, it further reduces a potential risk. Because Louisville Water does not maintain the customer's plumbing, the water chemistry is crucial in maintaining water quality.  

The lead program is part of Louisville Water's 2017 capital budget the Board approved today.  The $99.1 million budget also includes funding to replace one of the company's largest water mains along Eastern Parkway by slip-lining a smaller 42-inch steel pipe inside the 1930 48-inch cast iron main. There is also funding for technology to inspect large water mains with robotic technology and begin construction on a water main to take Louisville Water to Shelbyville.

Today, the Board also approved an increase of 83-cents a month for the monthly residential water bill bringing the average cost to $24.60 in 2017. Louisville Water projects to sell 34.2 billion gallons of water in 2017, nearly one billion gallons more than the estimated 2016 consumption of 33.3 billion gallons. Louisville Water continues to see a changing pattern in water usage.  While the 2016 consumption is projected to be the lowest in over 45 years, the service area continues to grow.  Louisville Water will begin to deliver water to Hardin County in 2017 and then in Shelbyville in 2019.  The utility continues to see an increase in other operating revenue and savings with the One Water initiative with MSD.

Louisville Water provides an annual dividend to its owner, the city of Louisville.  The projected dividend for 2017 is $20.8 million, an increase of the 2016 projected dividend of $20.3 million.