Residents asked to replace their lines
By Angie Landsverk
When the water line is replaced under a portion of Lake Street this year, the city of Waupaca is recommending property owners there replace their private water lines as well.
Lake Street’s water line will be replaced between Fifth and Eighth streets.
That water line dates back to the 1930s.
The four-inch water main does not meet today’s Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) standards.
This water line may also contain some lead components.
A possibility of where there may be lead is in the goosenecks, which start at the water main and are about two to three feet long, said Justin Berrens, the city’s director of public works.
“We don’t know for sure if it’s there,” he said during March 14 informational meetings about the project.
He presented information about the project during two meetings that day.
Berrens said the city suspects there may be lead components within the public system because during the 1930s, it was common for lead to be used in piping.
DNR and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines are that when any part of a public service line is replaced, the private water lines up to the houses should also be replaced, he said.
That is because the partial replacement of a lead service line may lead to elevated levels of lead, Berrens said.
He said the agencies are not sure what causes that to occur but think the disturbance of the line may be a possibility.
“We want private property participation, but it is up to them,” he said.
The Public Service Commission does not allow a public utility to pay for private expenses.
The part of the service line from the right of way to the house is the responsibility of the property owner.
Funds are being made available through the DNR to help cover the costs of these replacements, and the city of Waupaca is among the communities that applied for those funds.
“We won’t know if we are securing the money until after the project is over,” Berrens said.
Bids for the Lake Street project are due on April 10.
The estimated cost for the replacement of a property owner’s line is $3,000.
Property owners wanting to replace their lines will need to sign an agreement.
Those deciding not to do so will need to have their water tested for copper and lead before and after the project, Berrens said.
If they have an elevated level of lead, they will have to replace their water line, he said.
“These mains and lines haven’t been touched in years,” Berrens said. “Some will begin to fail on their own, so it’s a good idea to do it now.”
If the city is not successful in receiving funds to cover the cost of replacing private lines, the cost will be placed on the tax bills of the property owners as a special assessment.
Special assessments of $500 or more may be paid in eight annual installments, with an interest rate of 5 percent.
“If we get awarded the money, and there is no lead there, we will still receive the money, which will cover the entire cost of the private side,” he said.
Berrens said the city follows the DNR’s Lead and Copper Rule for testing.
That rules provides guidance on the sampling procedure, sampling schedule and location, he said.
If any test shows a concentration above the action level of 15 parts per billion, the city must notify the property owner within 24 hours, Berrens said.
“Any time there is an elevated level, the service line gets replaced. That’s a part of the EPA/DNR Lead and Copper Rule,” he said. “Since 2000, we have had four elevated results out of about 120 samples. All four were replaced, and proper notification was provided.”
Information about lead may be found on both the EPA and DNR websites.
Berrens also provided several recommendations for those who have concerns.
“People can run the tap for a couple minutes before drinking. Draw only cold water for cooking and drinking. Have a plumber review the home’s interior plumbing for lead solders, fixtures and piping.
“One can check their own service line at the meter. If the pipe turns shiny silver when scratched with a key or penny and a magnet does not stick – it is lead. Magnets will stick to iron not lead. Home lead tests are also available,” Berrens said.
He said residents may also contact his office.
The entire Lake Street project will be from South Main to Eighth streets.
The street’s water line, from Berlin to South Main streets, is a newer line.
As a result, work on that section of the street will consist of milling and paving.
The section from Fifth to Eighth streets will be a total reconstruction.
The Lake Street project is expected to begin in early May and take two to three months to complete, Berrens said.
He said the work must be done in time for the Waupaca Area Triathlon, which is on Saturday, Aug. 19.
Access for local residents will be maintained throughout the project, Berrens said.
The detour route will be Main Street to Badger Street to School Street.
The project will include some sidewalk and curb and gutter replacement.
Several hydrants will be replaced.
There will also be improvements to the crosswalks at Lake and Berlin streets and Lake and Fifth streets.
In addition, on Fifth Street, the work on Lake Street will go just far enough into Fifth Street so if work is done on that street in the future, there is a place to tie into the new water line, Berrens said.
The water line under Fifth Street is also a four-inch main.