Lead Service Line Replacement Loan Program or Lead Loan Program (LLP), an Enhancement to the Local Water System Assistance Program (LWSAP) for Member Communities
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
On recommendation from the MWRA Advisory Board, the MWRA Board of Directors approved an enhancement to the Local Water System Assistance Program to provide up to $100 million in 10-year zero-interest loans to communities solely for efforts to fully replace lead service lines. Each community will develop its own program, tailored to their local circumstances.
MWRA’s goal in providing financial assistance to member communities is to improve local water systems so that the high quality water MWRA delivers can make it all the way to consumers’ taps. The presence of a lead service line connecting a home to the main in the street can lead to elevated lead levels in tap water, especially if that water sits stagnant for an extended period. MWRA’s stable water quality and effective corrosion control treatment reduce the risk that a lead service line will cause elevated lead levels; measured lead levels in high risk homes have decreased by 90 percent since corrosion control was brought on-line in 1996. However, the risk of elevated levels remains as long as lead service lines are in use.
Pool of Loan Funds
The approved $100 million in loan funds will be provided as a pool of funds available for distribution to all eligible communities for distribution beginning in FY17 for local lead service line identification/removal projects.
Eligible MWRA Water Communities
MWRA has a total of 52 water communities (with Dedham/Westwood Water District counted as one), of which 47 will be eligible for financial assistance under the Lead Service Line Replacement Loan Program. The five ineligible water communities have special case consideration, these include: Cambridge, which receives MWRA water on an emergency-only basis; Lynn, which receives MWRA water only for the GE plant; as well as Clinton, Leominster (emergency only), and Worcester (emergency only) that draw untreated (raw) water from the Wachusett Reservoir.
MWRA Lead in Tap Water Informational Brochures
Free Bill Insert Size brochure (Free download, PDF): A colorful brochure emphasizing potential risks of lead in tap water, how customers can reduce lead exposure and the benefits of full lead service line replacements. (Dimensions 3.5" X 6.5").
To assist member communities and other stakeholders, MWRA is providing free Lead in Tap Water informational brochures (bill stuffer sized) for local distribution. For more information, please contact Stephen Estes-Smargiassi at Stephen.Estes-Smargiassi@mwra.com or Beverly Anderson at Beverly.Anderson@mwra.com
Eligible Project Costs and Distribution/Repayment of Loan Funds
The program provides 10-year zero-interest loans to communities to create local programs to fully remove lead service lines from the community water main all the way to the home or business.
The LLP Program Guidelines for Lead Service Line Replacement Loan Program Projects are available here (PDF). Details on eligible project costs are in Section 2.7 of the Program Guidelines and outlined below.
Applications for financial assistance are due to MWRA at least one month prior to the quarterly distribution date. Binding commitments to provide financial assistance for local water projects will be issued by MWRA in the form of a financial assistance and loan agreement subject to the availability of funds. The loan agreement will incorporate an opinion from the community's bond counsel stating that the loan is a valid general obligation of the municipality. Financial assistance will be distributed quarterly, on or about: February 15, May 15, August 15, and November 15. The financial assistance award will be transferred into a Massachusetts Municipal Depository Trust (MMDT) account established by the community. All Lead Loan Program financial assistance funds will be applied to the cost of approved community lead service line replacement project costs. All earned interest from the MMDT account, will be applied to the cost of approved community lead service line replacement project costs or other community water system rehabilitation projects. The interest-free loan will be repaid to MWRA over a ten-year period, beginning one year after the original quarterly funding distribution date.
Community projects to identify and replace water service lines so that all lead pipes are fully removed from both the public and private portions of the service line will be eligible under the Lead Loan Program. As part of the application process, the community will be required to describe how they plan to address private lead service lines.
All project costs incurred on or after July 1, 2016 will be considered for eligibility in an application under the Lead Loan Program, as listed below:
Identification of water service connections (or portions of service connections) constructed of lead including related records research, inventory/database development, house to house inspection, development of outreach/education materials, mapping of lead service lines, etc.
- Construction, rehabilitation, or other improvements to replace lead water service lines to fully remove all lead pipe. Costs for water pipeline rehabilitation incidental to the replacement of lead service lines are eligible. The replacement of lead gooseneck connections is eligible, either when encountered during water system rehabilitation/construction or if targeted through a specific rehabilitation project.
- Slip lining of lead water services will not be eligible.
- Community projects that provide a homeowner incentive for lead service line replacement through rebates for privately funded lead service line replacements or other similar incentive program will be eligible.
- Costs that are reasonable and necessary to repair private property areas directly impacted by eligible construction work so that the private property is as near as practical to existing conditions. Eligibility of work on private property may need to be reviewed on a project by project basis. Work to improve private property will not be eligible.
- Paving costs that are reasonable and necessary to repair the roadway and/or sidewalk areas directly impacted by eligible construction work will also be eligible and will be reviewed on a project by project basis. Eligibility of trench width pavement versus full width overlay pavement will be reviewed on a project by project basis. Cost for full depth roadway reconstruction will not be eligible.
- Police details associated with eligible project work are eligible.
- Planning and design services in connection with eligible lead service line replacement projects are eligible.
- Resident engineer inspection and construction administration services in connection with eligible lead service line replacement projects are eligible.
- Direct labor only (not including overhead or overtime costs) for force account work associated with planning, design, construction, or construction inspection of eligible lead service line replacement projects are eligible.
- Establishment of a Massachusetts Municipal Depository Trust (MMDT) or similar account used solely for the deposit, withdrawal, and tracking of financial assistance funds and Bond Counsel services, or other legal services, in connection with review of the Loan Agreement, Water Bond, and opinion of Bond Counsel are eligible.
MWRA Recommended Lead Service Line Replacement Program
Under the Local Water System Assistance Program application process for both Lead Loan Program Projects and Water Projects, communities will need to acknowledge the MWRA recommended components for a “Community Lead Service Line Replacement Program.” The MWRA recommended program incorporates at least the following:
- Communities should clearly establish that it is their goal to fully remove all lead pipe from both publicly-owned and privately-owned water service line connections;
- Communities should commit to a comprehensive lead service line inventory program to compile a listing of properties with full or partial lead service lines that will be made available to the public via web page or other similar public access vehicle (subject to disclaimer for accuracy based on best available information);
- Communities should target proactive outreach to customers with lead service lines to provide educational information regarding the risks of lead exposure and information encouraging the customer to participate in the community lead service line replacement program so that the privately-owned portion is replaced concurrent with the publicly-owned portion;
- Communities should maintain ongoing proactive outreach to customers with known privately-owned lead service lines;
- Communities should include a unit cost bid item for public and private portion service line replacement in all water pipeline projects so that a mechanism exists for full removal of lead service lines; and,
- As a secondary measure, communities’ lead service line replacement programs should include replacement of lead gooseneck connections when encountered during infrastructure rehabilitation or construction.
Overview of MWRA-Funded Community Lead Service Line Programs
Community Projects That Have Been Funded
During the first five years of the program (through September 2021), MWRA has distributed a total of $25.4 million in Lead Service Line Replacement Loan Program funds to 13 communities:
- Quincy: $1.5 million in FY17;
- Winchester: $500,000 in FY17, $500,000 in FY18, $600,000 in FY20 and $600,000 in FY21 ($2.2 million total);
- Newton: $4.0 million in FY17;
- Marlborough: $1 million in FY18, $1 million in FY19, $1 million in FY20 and $2 million in FY21 ($5 million total);
- Revere: $195,000 in FY18;
- Winthrop: $284,000 in FY18, $487,850 in FY19, $690,000 in FY20, and $750,000 in FY21 ($2,211,850 total);
- Needham: $1.0 million in FY18;
- Everett: $1 million in FY19, $1 million and $500,000 in FY20, $1.5 million in FY21 ($4 million total);
- Chelsea: $100,000 in FY19, $300,000 in FY20, $300,000 in FY21, and $300,000 in FY22 ($1 million total);
- Somerville: $900,000 in FY20;
- Weston: $160,000 in FY20;
- Watertown: $600,000 in FY21; and
- BWSC: $2.6 million in FY21.
Sample Community Lead Service Line Replacement Projects
- Quincy received a $1.5 million loan in December 2016 to fund the construction portion of its program targeting the removal of 141 public/private lead services, with Quincy paying the full cost to replace both the public and private lead service lines. The City performed an extensive review of its Public Works records to develop a spreadsheet of addresses where lead services existed, were likely, or where the water service pipe material was unknown. A field crew inspected each suspect water service at the meter. Quincy initiated a public information campaign to inform property owners of the program, including: community meetings, website information, public information displays, letters targeted to suspect homes, translated information letters, and certified mail letters with participation agreements. Additional investigations during the project identified a total of 285 lead services, of which 163 were lead-lined steel services (see photo). The service line replacement construction began in April 2017 and was completed in September 2018. A total of 206 full or partial lead services were replaced with new copper services (104 lead services and 102 lead-lined services). The 206 replacements represent a 72% success rate of the total 285 identified lead services. For the 79 known private-side lead services that remain (18 lead services and 61 lead-lined steel services); non-participation by investment property owners was the largest obstacle to a higher participation rate. Quincy’s 206 lead services were replaced at an average construction cost of $6,860 per lead service and a total of 7,180 feet of new copper water service pipe was installed at an average construction cost of $197 per foot. Quincy received an Outstanding Performance and Achievement Award from MassDEP and recognition from Clean Water Action for the project’s health benefits.
Sample photo of lead-lined steel water service line removed in Quincy
Quincy lead removal project
Newton received a $4.0 million loan in May 2017 to fund the planning, design, construction, and construction services for lead service line replacements. The project targeted all identified/suspect lead services with the City providing a customer incentive of a 10-year interest-free loan for all private-side lead service removal costs. Design was complete in spring 2017 and construction was complete in December 2019. All 433 full or partial services were replaced at a construction cost of $3.0 million. Based on construction test pits, no action was determined to be needed at 187 services included in the initial screening. Newton’s project was completed at an average construction cost of $6,930 per lead service and a total of 19,400 feet of new copper water service pipe was installed at an average construction cost of $155 per foot. Newton spent an additional $586,000 on engineering services to design and coordinate the lead removal program.
Long lead service line replacement in Newton
- Winchester received a $500,000 loan in March 2017 and an additional $500,000 in June 2018 to fund phases 1 and 2 of its lead service line removal program. The Town is paying the first $1,200 of costs for replacing private-side lead services and property owners are billed for the remainder. At completion of a detailed inventory, 21 lead services (mostly private-side) and approximately 720 lead goosenecks on the public-side were identified. Winchester removed 52 lead goosenecks during 2016, prior to the MWRA loan project. Through 2019, Winchester has removed 20 of the 21 identified private-side lead services (one property owner refused to participate). An additional 93 lead goosenecks on the public-side were also removed. The phase 2 construction program will continue public-side lead gooseneck removal during the 2020 construction season. Winchester’s 113 total service lines were replaced at an average construction cost of $5,500 per lead service and a total of 2,570 feet of new copper water service pipe was installed at an average construction cost of $240 per foot.
- Marlborough received a $1.0 million loan in September 2017 to fund the replacement of approximately 200 lead service lines as the first phase of a large project targeting replacement of all 1,350 lead service lines. Marlborough is paying the full cost of both public and private lead service line replacements. The City is paying separately for the project planning, design, and construction services and has developed a detailed spreadsheet inventory of all public/private lead services. The construction project began in May 2018 and through September 2018, a total of 176 lead services had been replaced at a construction cost of $1.01 million. Marlborough’s 176 lead services were replaced at an average construction cost of $5,835 per lead service and a total of 7,694 feet of new copper water service pipe was installed at an average construction cost of $130 per foot. The City received a second $1.0 million lead loan from MWRA in May 2019 that will fund phase 2 of the project.
Revere received a $195,000 loan in November 2017 to fund the design portion of its lead service line replacement project. Revere is paying the full cost of both public and private lead service line replacements. As part of the City’s comprehensive water meter replacement program, Revere had the meter installers inspect and catalog all lead service lines entering each property. This effort resulted in a detailed spreadsheet of 282 properties with lead services. The lead service line replacement design for up to 300 lead services was completed and bid in June 2018. The construction bid cost averaged $6,960 per lead service and was being funded through an MA State Revolving Fund loan.
Winthrop received a $284,000 loan in December 2017 and $487, 850 loan in May 2019 to fund Phases 1 and 2 of lead service line removals. Winthrop paid the full cost of both public and private lead service line replacements. The completed projects removed 156 total lead services at a cost of approximately $800,000. Winthrop's lead services were replaced at an average construction cost of $5,100 per lead service.
Needham received a $1.0 million loan in June 2018 targeting the removal of approximately 154 public/private lead services and 1,047 lead goosenecks. Needham is paying the full cost of both public and private lead service line replacements. Needham bid a multi-year construction contract for lead service line and lead gooseneck removals. Through December 2019, 33 full lead services, 61 private-side only lead services, and 309 lead goosenecks (main to sidewalk replacement) have been completed for a total construction cost of $1.15 million. Needham’s lead services were replaced at an average construction cost of $2,860 per lead service. The construction is scheduled to continue in 2020.
- Boston (BWSC) BWSC’s lead service line removal program (no MWRA funding) pays the first $4,000 of cost of private-side lead service line removals and property owner pays the remainder with the option of spreading the payment out over four years via their monthly water bill. For small house lots with a relatively short water service line, BWSC finds the $4,000 often covers the full cost of the private-side lead service removal. For more information see the www.bwsc.org
Resources for Lead Service Line Replacement Programs
Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Collaborative
The Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Collaborative, a diverse coalition of 23 national public health, water utility, environmental, labor, consumer, housing and state and local government organizations, released an online toolkit designed to help communities across the United States accelerate removal of lead service lines. Removing these lead pipes provides an opportunity to significantly reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water. The Collaborative's toolkit includes a road map for getting started, suggested practices to identify and remove lead service lines in a safe, equitable, and cost-effective manner, policies that federal and state leaders could adopt to support local efforts, and links to additional resources that may be helpful when developing local programs.
LSLR Collaborative web site
LSLR Collaborative Communication Guide (PDF)
Information from American Waterworks Association
ANSI/AWWA C810-17 Replacement and Flushing of Lead Service Lines
This standard describes essential procedures for the replacement of lead water service lines and flushing following replacement. It also describes procedures for partial replacement and repair situations where complete lead service line replacement is not possible or practical.
Trenchless Lead Service Line Replacement: "HOW TO" – from Lansing, Michigan Board of Water and Light as printed in AWWA Opflow, July 2016
1905 Massachusetts State Board of Health Annual Report
This 1905 report (PDF) notes the materials used for water service pipes in cities and towns throughout Massachusetts. This article includes a table listing the number of water service pipes made from different materials for many Massachusetts communities. The water service pipe materials include: lead, lead lined, wrought iron, galvanized iron, cement lined, and tin lined.
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October 29, 2021