A Denver Water crew works to replace a lead water service line installed in 1927 with a new copper one at a private home on June 17, 2021, in Denver.

The EPA approved a plan to remove lead water pipes in the Denver area. The agency called the local water utility's efforts an example to other utilities looking to replace their lead water lines.

The high levels of lead found in Denver's drinking water about 10 years ago prompted the push to replace old lead water lines. Between 64,000 and 84,000 lead pipes will be replaced in fifteen years. About 18% to 23% of the lead lines in the city have been dug up by Denver Water since then.

"Denver Water's approach to tackling lead in drinking water has been remarkable and an example for other communities across the country." Thanks to new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the utility's customers can expect an even faster lead service line replacement schedule.

Even low levels of exposure to lead are cause for public health concern. Growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead, according to the EPA. Intellectual disabilities and behavior disorders are caused by the over exposure. Even though the utility is still working on removing lead water lines, some results have been achieved. According to the Associated Press, the latest water tests show that lead levels in the city's water have fallen below the federal limit. The Denverite reports that the water utility has given free water filters to households while it continues to replace lead lines with copper.

There is a lead problem in other US cities. One in 20 tap water tests in Chicago had lead levels that were above the U.S. government limits. Out of 24,000 households, 1000 had lead levels that were higher than recommended. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, according to the EPA.

Chicago has been slower to replace lead water lines than Denver. More than two years after the city promised to remove lead pipes, only a small percentage of them have been replaced, according to a report.

EartherEnvironmental Policy