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Lead in Drinking Water
Private Lead Service Replacement Program
Public Fire Protection
Water Main Construction
The Racine Water Utility has instituted a rebate program to assist home owners in replacing their lead water services. The water service line is the pipe between the water main under the street and the meter inside your house. The water service from the water main in the street to the sidewalk is publicly owned, and the water service from the sidewalk into the meter in the basement is privately owned. Many older homes in Racine and across the country, typically those built before the early 1940s, were built with lead service lines. Some limited funding is being made available to assist homeowners in replacing the privately owned portion of the service line through the State of Wisconsin with special funds from Congress. Assistance will be in the form of a rebate payment made directly to a plumber, up to a maximum amount currently estimated to be $3,000. This program to phase out lead service lines is voluntary and, after the rebate, comes at little to no cost to homeowners.
The water leaving the Racine water treatment plant and moving through the mains is virtually lead-free. Lead enters drinking water as a result of corrosion in lead service lines and in older household plumbing. The Water Utility has been treating its water with a small amount of an ortho-phosphate blend to minimize corrosiveness for more than 20 years. The corrosion control treatment is safe for human health and helps build a protective coating on the inside of metallic pipes and plumbing fixtures. (The recent crisis in Flint, Michigan resulted from corrosion from a new water source entering lead pipes without proper treatment.)
The Racine Water Utility has operated a monitoring program of lead levels within homes since 1993 to ensure the effectiveness of its corrosion control process. Racine water has remained consistent in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards. Replacing lead service lines, however, is considered the best approach moving forward.
You must meet two conditions to be eligible: First, your private water service piping must be made of either lead or galvanized iron.
Second, one of the following must be true:
In order to qualify for the lottery system, the public portion (that portion in the street) of your water service must already be copper. The Utility maintains detailed records on public service materials, so you do not need to contact the Utility in order to be entered into the lottery system.
Funding will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis, and there should be enough funds to replace several hundred private lead services per year, over the next several years.
Residents in areas of public water service replacement projects, and residents with leaking or failing services, will be given higher priority. Other eligible residents, those chosen by the lottery system, will be given lower priority.
The rebate program is only open to those properties that are residential in nature and owned by an individual. In most cases, a business, LLC, or commercially owned property will not qualify.
If your home was built before the early 1940's there is a good chance your private piping is lead or galvanized iron. The best way to determine the material of your private water service is to hire a plumber to inspect it for you. Plumbers will often do this for free.
If your home was built in the mid-1940s or later, odds are that both your private portion and public portion are already copper.
You could also contact the Utility at 262-636-9533 to request an inspection; our ability to respond in a timely manner will depend on our seasonal workload and the volume of requests received.
If you are in the area of a public lead replacement project, or if your service is leaking, there is a very good chance that funding has been set aside for you. Once you pick a plumber and deliver the "Addendum to Contract" form, the Utility can then verify with your plumber that funding is available. Plumbers were supplied copies of the Addendum form.
If you were chosen as part of the lottery system, the Utility will notify your plumber regarding funding as soon as the Addendum form is delivered to the Utility.
The rebate program to replace the private portion is fully funded by the State. So if the public portion is already copper, the private portion can be replaced at no cost to the Utility.
But if the public portion is lead, the Utility would then need to self-fund the public lead replacement in conjunction with the private lead replacement. Unfortunately, replacing dozens of additional public lead services is outside our current lead replacement budget.
The Utility owns and maintains the water service from the water main in the street to the curb stop valve, which is typically located near the sidewalk. If this public portion is lead, the Utility will replace this section with new copper tubing and will also install a new curb stop valve. If your service is already copper, the Utility will simply reconnect the existing copper tubing to the new water main in the street.
The remaining portion of the service, from the curb stop valve to the meter in the building, is the private portion of the water service and is owned by the property owner.
The next step is to pick a plumber. You should call several plumbers and obtain quotes for the work, keeping in mind that the rebate is capped at $3000. You should also discuss any details or concerns with the plumbers. You should, at the very least, discuss just what sort of restoration they will perform in the yard and sidewalk, and what sort of work will be performed in the basement.
Your plumber must first prequalify with the Utility before performing the work. The Utility hosts a list of prequalified plumbers at:
Service Lateral Rebate Program
You can use a plumber who is not on the list, but they must first prequalify with the Utility before starting any work.
You should review your quote from the plumber to ensure everything is in order. Then you and your plumber should both then sign the "Addendum To Contract" form and deliver it to the Utility before starting any work. The plumber will often deliver the form for you. Once that's done, the rest is up to your plumber. They will handle the permitting and inspection process, and will coordinate the work with the Utility.
Bear in mind that you are hiring the plumber, and the plumber is working for you, not the Utility.
The Utility will make direct payment to your plumber, up to a maximum amount of $3000. Any additional amount over $3000 will be the responsibility of the homeowner. In some cases the cost to restore the front yard or sidewalk will be an extra cost, over the $3000 rebate cap, and that cost will be your responsibility.
The City of Racine has also begun a low-interest loan program to help cover those additional costs over the $3000 rebate cap. Please contact the City of Racine at 262-636-9280 for more information on the loan program.
You can try calling other plumbers who are not on the list, even outside the city of Racine. You could also try calling any construction companies or contractors who perform underground utility work to see if they'd be interested in replacing your service.
If you end up choosing a company not on the City's list, just make sure that they first prequalify with the Utility before performing any work.
Homeowners in areas where public service replacements are to be performed will be given the highest priority for disbursement of limited State funds, followed by homeowners who have an actively leaking private service, and then followed by homeowners whose publicly owned portion is already copper and have been chosen to participate via a lottery syttem. This rebate program only applies to homeowners with lead or galvanized iron private water services. Funding may be limited and will be dispersed on a first come, first serve basis. LLC-owned properties and other properties commercial in nature are not eligible.
Some homes may have copper in the basement at the floor or wall penetration, but the remainder of the water service may still be lead. The Utility will be able to better document service types once our contractor digs up the sidewalk and exposes the private water services at those areas that are scheduled for public service replacements. The Utility will deliver flyers to certain homeowners informing them of our findings as construction progresses. Flyers will be mailed to owners of rental properties.
Plumbers must first prequalify with the Utility before being eligible to take part in the Rebate Program, and can do this by filling out a Prequalification Form at the Racine Water Utility office at 800 Center Street, Room 227.
To see a list of plumbers who have prequalified to date,
please click here. Plumbers not on this list may still take part in the Rebate Program so long as they prequalify before performing the work.
For more information to become a prequalified plumber click here.
Prior to performing any private service replacements, the plumbing contractor and homeowner shall sign an
addendum, as supplied by the Utility, to ensure that both parties understand the conditions of the Rebate Program.
Rebate payments will be made directly to the plumbing contractor, up to a maximum of $3,000, with any additional amount due from the homeowner. Plumbing contractors will need to complete a Plumbing Permit Application with the City of Racine Plumbing Department prior to performing any work. Rebates will not be paid until the work has been inspected and found to be in compliance with Plumbing Department requirements.
The City of Racine has also instituted a loan-interest loan program to assist homeowners cover any costs over the $3,000 rebate limit. Click *HERE* for further information on the City’s loan program.
For those locations scheduled for public service replacements the Utility’s contractor will replace the publicly owned portions in the street, terminating at the curb stop valve which is typically located in the parkway or sidewalk area. The Utility’s contractor is not obligated to keep the curb stop valve excavation open for access and use by the private plumber, and may, at their own discretion, backfill this area immediately upon completing their work. Additionally, the Utility’s contractor may opt to perform final restoration, including turf and sidewalk restoration, immediately after completing the public service replacement. Plumbers should include in their proposal to homeowners the cost to re-excavate the curb stop valve, as well as costs associated with restoration of turf, sidewalk, or other disturbed surfaces.
Homeowners and plumbers are encouraged to replace private water services as soon as the public portions have been completed.
Replacing a lead line may actually temporarily increase the lead levels in the water, for a short time, due to the existing lead particles being disturbed by the construction process. Lead levels typically return to lower concentrations as the RWU corrosion inhibitor recoats the pipeline and any loosened particles are flushed away.To protect its consumers, the Racine Water Utility recommends and is offering free water sampling following water service line replacement for your property.
Your cooperation and involvement is needed in order to collect the water sample for testing. Sampling is easy and instructions for the collection of the sample will be given when we drop off the sample bottle. Sampling should be conducted within 72 hours of the partial lead service line replacement. The samples are highly recommended to provide information on the amount of lead in your drinking water and the affect the service line replacement may have on those levels. The RWU strongly urges customers with lead service lines, especially those who recently had part or all of their lead service replaced, to run water at their kitchen or bathroom faucets for 30 seconds to 2 minutes after any period (6 – 8 hours) of water non-use. This is the easiest way for a homeowner to reduce or eliminate exposure to lead through the drinking water.
If you would like your water sampled after the replacement of our portion of the lead service line, please contact the Utility in one of the following ways:
Please contact Chad Regalia, the Water Utility’s Chief Engineer, with any questions.
He can be reached via phone at 262-497-4611, or via email at
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