Environment

Louisville Water Company finished replacing all of the city’s publicly owned lead service lines last year, but they’re still trying to get nearly 1,000 homeowners to take out the last remaining private lines.

Service lines connect homes to water mains, and if you live in a home built before 1950, it’s possible that line could be made with lead — a neurotoxin that can leach into drinking water under certain conditions. 

Water quality compliance manager Chris Bobay says Louisville has about 45,000 homes built before 1950 and about 5 to 10% of them likely have some kind of lead plumbing. 

Louisville Water has spent more than $50 million to remove about 74,000 city-owned lead service lines installed between 1860 and 1936, according to their site.  

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

Inside Louisville Water Company’s Crescent Hill Water Treatment Laboratory.

But the company says private lead service lines are still an issue. It knows of at least 824 homes in Jefferson County. Louisville Water has begun reaching out to customers to let them know about a testing and replacement program to remove the pipes. 

“Let me just say this, if you own an older home we want you to test your water for lead. There’s a high likelihood that we don’t know or you don’t even know what plumbing materials were used on your side of your water main,” Bobay said. 

Louisville Water Company will send anyone with a home built before 1950 a free testing kit to check if lead is leaching into drinking water through the service line. 

To further incentivize people, Louisville Water Company offers a 50-50 match up to $1,500 to replace a lead service line. Bobay says a typical replacement runs less than $3,000. 

Despite the match, only 36 people have taken them up on the offer since the program began last year. Bobay said it’s been hard to get people’s attention, but this is a public health concern.

“And so we want to help,” Bobay said. “I think they’re have been positive outcomes for customers that want to work with us, and there have been, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

Louisville Water Company’s Crescent Hill Reservoir

 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.