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D.C. offers new financial assistance for replacing lead pipes

Residents can apply to recover at least 50 percent of their costs

Three workers are seen replacing pipes along a sidewalk. They are wearing helmets and orange safety vests.
Workers replace lead pipes in Northwest D.C. (2004)
The Washington Post via Getty Im

District property owners who have partial lead pipes on their premises can get between half and all of their pipe-replacement costs covered by a new city program. The program, rolled out last month, allows for these residents to apply for public funding, with awards based on household size, income, and estimated replacement costs. Currently, the program has $1.8 million in funding, and D.C. lawmakers could allocate additional money for it in the future.

The city’s Department of Energy and Environment is administering the program. There is no income limit for awards of up to $2,500, for recovering 50 percent of pipe-replacement costs, while, at the 80 and 100 percent award levels, the maximum household income is $121,300. Lead pipes are common in older homes, and significant amounts of ingested lead can cause developmental damage for young children. “This investment in part of our commitment to ensuring residents having safe, clean drinking water and doing everything we can to protect our children and limit their exposure to lead,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

A diagram showing a home on a street and public and private pipes connecting to the home.
Diagram of a home with partial lead pipes beneath it
D.C. government

Although D.C. Water began replacing lead-based main water lines in 2003, some lead pipes directly beneath residents’ homes or yards were not reached. “[T]he actual private pipes can be as little as a foot or so of lead pipe that a homeowner would be responsible for replacing,” explained Brianne Nadeau, the Ward 1 councilmember, when first proposing the legislation that ultimately established the new program, in 2017. Some 12,000 homes could benefit from the program, notes the Washington Post. A map of lead service lines in D.C. is available here.

Homeowners must provide the following information to apply for the program, per the city:

“Quote from a contractor (including the length of the pipe, the pipe material, and a picture of the point of entry). For more information, visit: dcwater.com/LSR-guidelines;

Household’s most recent DC Water bill;

Property owner’s photo identification;

Proof of property ownership; and

Proof of income for each member of the household (if seeking approval for the income-eligible program).”