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Louisville Water Company is replacing private lead service lines for free

A lead service line pulled from a home in Shelby Park in Louisville on May 9, 2023.
Ryan Van Velzer
A lead service line pulled from a home in Shelby Park in Louisville on May 9, 2023.

Louisville Water Company estimates that around 800 of the city’s older homes still have private lead service lines. They’re working to replace all of them.

Over the last year, Louisville Water Company has reached out to these customers with an offer to pay 100% of the replacement costs for any private lead service line that connects to their meters.

To date, more than 340 customers have signed up for the program, and more than 100 have had their lines replaced. The lead lines are spread out across the city, mostly in the older neighborhoods.

Just because you have a lead line, doesn’t mean it’s getting into your water, said spokesperson Kelley Dearing Smith.

“Louisville’s drinking water does not contain lead when it leaves our treatment plants. The risk for lead to get into water comes from pipes and plumbing that’s made of lead,” she said. “We balance the water chemistry at the treatment plants to minimize the risk (corrosion control). Eliminating the lead pipes is key as well as ongoing education.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is no safe amount of lead in drinking water. Infants and young children are especially susceptible. Low levels of exposure in children have been linked to brain damage, learning disabilities, impaired hearing and other health problems.

Even in adults, lead exposure can lead to increased blood pressure, hypertension and kidney and reproductive health problems.

Several years ago Louisville Water replaced all its known public lead service lines -- around 76,000 -- based on available records. However, the company still occasionally finds and replaces them.

The company will continue canvassing and door knocking efforts this year to get the remaining customers to sign up for the free replacement.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.