Lead Reduction Pilot Program
Des Moines Water Works will launch a pilot program with a goal to replace 100 lead service lines (the pipe that brings water into the home from the water main in the street), for selected property owners in the River Bend Neighborhood. The service line is owned by the property owner; however, Des Moines Water Works wants to use this pilot program as a mechanism to prepare for future lead service line replacement projects in its service area.
DMWW worked with city of Des Moines officials to identify River Bend as a neighborhood that met disadvantaged neighborhood guidelines, according to U.S. Census data. Those property owners who were selected for the project will be eligible to have their service line replaced at no cost.
For more than 100 years, Des Moines Water Works has provided safe, affordable drinking water for homes and businesses in central Iowa. While there is no lead in the water Des Moines Water Works produces nor when it leaves our three water treatment plants, we recognize there are lead pipes in older areas of our community. No level of lead is safe for children. DMWW is currently seeking federal funds to pay for additional service line replacement.
- Guidelines for flushing your water lines (English) (Spanish)
- Flushing Your Water Line
- Using a Brita Filter (English) (Spanish)
- Using a Brita Filter after Lead Service Line Replacement
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY ARE THERE LEAD SERVICE LINES?
Homes constructed before 1940 in Des Moines may be served by a lead water service line. Copper pipe installed before 1985 may have been installed using lead-containing solder. DMWW estimates there could be as many as 20,000 lead service lines in Des Moines.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A LEAD LINE?
You can search your address to see if it has a possible lead service line using the Lead Service Lookup or you may contact Customer Service at (515) 283-8700.
CAN I TELL BY A VISUAL INSPECTION IF I HAVE A LEAD LINE?
Visual inspection of the service line at the meter can help confirm the material used at that point, but it doesn’t confirm what materials may be used in other sections of the service line buried underground. Record information such as tap date, tap size, and the date of home construction can help indicate what materials may be used in other sections of the service line. If record information is unavailable, visual inspection of the materials on either side of the shutoff valve may help confirm the material used.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
The property owner owns the water service line to the location where it connects to the water main DMWW owns the water main and the water meter (see diagram).
HOW WERE THE STREETS FOR THE PILOT PROGRAM SELECTED? WHEN WILL YOU REPLACE MY LINE IF NOT PART OF THE PILOT PROGRAM?
DMWW worked with city of Des Moines officials to identify a neighborhood that met disadvantaged neighborhood guidelines, according to U.S. Census data. Federal funding for lead service line replacement is designated for disadvantaged and low-income neighborhoods; however, DMWW has not received any federal funding to date for this project. Currently, DMWW is only completing the pilot project on selected streets in the River Bend area until federal money is obtained. Based off records, DMWW further identified selected properties on the streets that met criteria to likely have lead service lines. This pilot program will provide valuable information for future lead service line replacement projects.
WHAT IF I’M NOT IN THE PILOT PROGRAM?
Property owners can have their water service line examined to determine the service line material. If it is determined to be lead or galvanized, owners can replace the line themselves at any time by contacting a licensed plumber or contractor.
IS THERE LEAD IN MY WATER?
The water DMWW provides to homes and businesses is lead-free when it leaves our treatment plants, but lead can get into the water as it moves through customer-owned service lines and plumbing materials inside the house if they contain lead. Having a service line that contains lead does not mean you have elevated levels of lead in your water; however, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THE WATER IS SAFE TO DRINK?
DMWW conducts regular tests at homes with suspected lead water service lines to check lead levels in the drinking water. As a result of this testing, DMWW has no reason to believe there are elevated levels of lead. This pilot program is a proactive measure to remove lead service lines from our community.
CAN I HAVE MY WATER TESTED?
Contact DMWW (515) 283-8700 to learn if you are eligible for a complimentary lead test. If you are not eligible for a free test but still wish to have your water tested, a $18 fee will apply.
WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
You can contact Customer Service at (515) 283-8700 or email: email@example.com.
WHEN WILL YOU REPLACE MY LEAD SERVICE LINE?
DMWW’s contractor will begin verifying service line materials in the fall of 2023. Replacement of identified lead service lines that are part of this pilot program are anticipated to begin in the fall of 2023 and be completed by spring of 2024. DMWW will send additional information about the replacement process and next steps if your property is eligible for service line replacement.
WILL YARDS AND LANDSCAPING BE IMPACTED BY LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT?
DMWW’s contractor will use trenchless construction methods to replace lead service lines wherever this method is feasible. In most cases this method of installation requires two excavations: one in the street at DMWW’s water main and a second at the stop box. Both excavations and additional excavations will be restored upon completion of the lead service line replacement.
WHAT IS THE REPLACEMENT PROCESS FOR MY LEAD SERVICE LINE?
- DMWW will send an initial letter to inform you that your service line has been identified as potentially lead or galvanized material.
- DMWW’s contractor will verify your service line material at the shutoff valve. You will receive a follow up letter from DMWW informing you of your service line material and service line replacement eligibility. If eligible for replacement, this letter will include a consent form to sign allowing DMWW’s contractor to access your property and replace your service line from the water main to the meter. You will also receive a pitcher and filter to use for six months following the service line replacement.
- After DMWW receives the signed consent form, DMWW’s contractor will schedule the service line replacement with you directly. The owner or designee, at least 18 years old, must be at the property on the date and time scheduled for the service line replacement. Most service lines can be replaced in four to eight hours.
- After the service line replacement, follow guidelines for flushing your water lines (English) (Spanish). View Flushing Your Water Line video for more information. Use the DMWW provided water pitcher and filter and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s instructions until six months after service line replacement (English) (Spanish). View Using a Brita Filter after Lead Service Line Replacement video for more information.
- DMWW’s contractor will restore paved and non-paved surfaces affected by construction.