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What is Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program?

Denver Water is committed to delivering safe water to our customers. The water that we provide to homes and businesses is lead-free, but lead can get into the water as it moves through lead-containing household fixtures, plumbing and water service lines — the pipe that brings water into the home from the main in the street — that are owned by the customer.

The program was approved in December 2019 by the Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The program has five main components:

  • pH adjustment: Increasing the pH level of the water to reduce the risk of lead and other metals getting into drinking water from lead service lines or household plumbing.
  • Inventory: Developing and maintaining a publicly accessible inventory of all customer-owned lead service lines in Denver Water’s service area. The service line is the pipe that brings water into the home from the main in the street.
  • Lead Service Line Replacement: Replacing all of these lead service lines with copper lines at no direct charge to the customer.
  • Filter Program: Providing a free water pitcher, filter and replacement filters, certified to remove lead, to all customers suspected of having lead services lines until six months after their line is replaced.
  • Ongoing: Communication, outreach and education programs.

Having a lead service line doesn’t necessarily mean you have elevated levels of lead in your water, but a lead service line can contribute to elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

FAQs

How does lead get into drinking water?

The water delivered to homes and businesses is lead-free, but lead can get into the water as it moves through customers’ lead-containing household plumbing and service lines — the pipes that bring water from Denver Water’s main in the street to the plumbing in your home or building.

How is Denver Water identifying lead service lines?

Because property owners, not Denver Water, own water service lines, information on what they are made of is inconsistent and scattered among a variety of sources. So, Denver Water has been developing a comprehensive inventory of known and suspected lead services lines using a combination of property records (homes built before 1951 are more likely to have lead service lines in Denver Water’s experience), water quality tests and visual inspections of service lines.

How and when are customers who are part of the program being notified?

By spring 2020, Denver Water will send a letter to all customers who may have a lead service line and therefore are part of the program. From March through August 2020, these customers also will receive a water pitcher and filters capable of removing lead from drinking water.

How is Denver Water prioritizing lead service lines for replacement?

Denver Water estimates there are 64,000-84,000 properties that may have lead service lines. It will take 15 years to replace all of them. We’ll be working on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, factoring in those who are most vulnerable and at-risk from lead exposure, underserved areas and planned construction activities.

Who is covering the cost of the program?

Denver Water will replace customer-owned lead service lines and provide filters to customers until their lead service line can be replaced at no direct charge to the customer. The cost will be covered through water rates, bonds, new service fees and hydropower generation, which is in line with other large capital improvement projects undertaken regularly by Denver Water. We’ll also be looking into additional funding through loans, grants and contributions from partners.