Over the next three years, residents will see Louisville Water working on many neighborhood streets as the company eliminates its remaining lead service lines that were installed many years ago. The company allotted $10.9 million for 2018 projects to replace lead service lines with a copper pipe. The funding is part of Louisville Water’s 2018 capital budget.
Lead is not a public health concern for Louisville’s drinking water. Lead is not in the drinking water when it leaves the treatment plants but there’s a potential risk for lead to enter the water through pipes and plumbing materials. Louisville Water’s treatment minimizes the chance for lead to enter the water but it’s also important to eliminate the primary risk, lead service lines. Louisville Water began as Kentucky’s first public water provider in 1860 and until the 1950s, it was common to use lead for the service line that connects to the customer’s property.
Louisville Water began replacing its lead service lines in the 1980s and today approximately 4,600 remain, representing just 1.6% of the company’s total service lines. Louisville Water has a goal to eliminate these remaining lines by 2020 and has budgeted roughly $23.6 million to complete the work. Because Louisville Water is only responsible for the lines that connect to the property, the company offers funding to assist customers if their private service line is made of lead.
Robots and replacing pipe
The 2018 capital budget also includes $33 million to replace, repair and perform robotic inspections of water mains. Louisville Water has over 4,200 miles of pipe in its system, ranging in size from 6-inches to 60-inches in diameter and some of the pipe is over 150 years old. Taking care of the pipe that’s in the ground helps to eliminate the number of water main breaks and maintain great water quality. Next year, Louisville Water will continue to use robotic technology to examine water mains that are larger than 20-inches in diameter. This type of inspection often allows the water main to continue to be filled with water while a device moves through the pipe, looking for potential problems.
The 2018 budget also includes funding to continue the work along Eastern Parkway to replace one of Louisville Water’s oldest water mains. Louisville Water is slip-lining a new pipe inside the original 1930 pipe to prevent digging up sections of Eastern Parkway.
Louisville Water will also work to install a large water main along Interstate 64 that will deliver drinking water to Shelbyville in 2019. Delivering water to neighboring communities through partnership contracts helps with economic growth in the region. Louisville Water continues to see revenue grow through regionalization efforts, representing 3.1% of the company’s 2018 revenue.