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Private Lead Service Line Replacement Program

Got lead service lines in your community? We've got resources to help. At least 63 million dollars in principal forgiveness funding is available for Wisconsin municipalities to replace lead service lines (LSLs) on private property. Recent federal legislation allows states to make a one-time transfer of funds from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to address lead related threats.

Health risks

Removing lead service lines is one way to minimize the potential for lead to get into your drinking water. When people come in contact with lead, it may enter their bodies and accumulate over time, resulting in damage to the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, and kidneys. Its presence in the body can lead to toxic effects, regardless of age, gender, or exposure pathway. The Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Drinking Water & Groundwater provides information regarding the concerns of lead in drinking water.

LSL program description

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in collaboration with the Department of Administration and the Public Service Commission, established the Private Lead Service Line (LSL) Replacement Program to assist municipalities in their efforts to replace private LSLs. This program builds on the past success of the two-year Private LSL Replacement Program and serves as a momentum-builder for removing all LSLs in Wisconsin. See the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) Intended Use Plan for a detailed description of the Private LSL Replacement Program.

  • Funding for LSL replacements on private property will be awarded as principal forgiveness (PF), which means no debt is incurred on behalf of the municipality for these funds.
  • The public portion of the service line is eligible for regular SDWLP funding.

Private Lead Service Line Replacement Program webinar

Applicants

Funding is not limited to disadvantaged municipalities; any municipality that has reported private lead or galvanized service lines to the PSC will be eligible to apply. The Safe Drinking Water Loan Program is not able to award funds directly to individual homeowners.

Cost and project eligibility

Construction-related costs that are considered eligible include the following:

  • Removal of private LSLs or service lines made of galvanized iron or galvanized steel (that are currently or have previously been downstream of lead components), or removal of lead goosenecks (on the private side), and replacement with a pipe of an acceptable material.
  • Site restoration, including landscaping, sidewalks, driveways, etc. if the removal was necessary in order to replace the private LSL.
  • Electrical grounding if an LSL is replaced with a non-metallic material.
  • Permit fees if the fees are normal, required, and specific to the private LSL replacement.
  • The cost of hiring a Cultural Resources Management firm (CRM) if this is required due to archaeological or historical issues discovered during the environmental review process.
  • Relocation of an LSL to a more desirable location if the relocation results in a lower cost for the replacement (should be discussed in advance).
  • Relocation of an LSL or similar situations where changes are needed in order to be compliant with applicable administrative codes (should be discussed in advance).
  • Other situations that may arise may be discussed with your assigned project manager on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility.”

The program may be used for costs associated with replacing lines at the following properties:

  • Residential properties (including multi-family buildings and buildings that contain both business and residential occupants);
  • Pre-K–12 schools;
  • Licensed/certified daycare centers; and
  • Non-residential properties, other than schools and daycares, connected to a watermain that is being replaced and funded by the SDWLP (under certain conditions—see the SDWLP IUP for details).

Funds cannot be used to replace interior plumbing and/or fixtures containing lead (for funding options, contact the DOA's CDBG Housing Revolving Loan Fund Program).

Awards will only cover construction costs, with the following exceptions:

  • Up to $5,000 for engineering and administrative support will be available for small systems (municipal population under 3,300).
  • Up to $5,000 for costs related to developing a mandatory replacement ordinance will be available to all applicants.

Awards will be 100% principal forgiveness and will be made for one construction season at a time. Funding is also available for LSL replacements completed during the previous construction season as long as the replacements meet the necessary federal requirements to be eligible: environmental review; use of American iron and steel; compliance with Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, when applicable; no partial replacements (see below).

Awards will be based on the following:

  • The estimated number of LSLs that the municipality can replace in one construction season;
  • Average cost per LSL replacement, based on data collected during the previous two-year LSL replacement program and other local data;
  • Whether the municipality is participating in the PSC-approved program using ratepayer funds to cover up to 50% of the cost of LSL replacements. In this situation we will work with the municipality to determine an equitable sharing of costs; and
  • Whether any cost-sharing from homeowners will be required.

Final disbursements under the awards will be due by the last disbursement deadline in December (December 11, 2021, for the 2021 construction season) and awards will be closed out at that time.

  • 8700-366 Request for Disbursement for Private LSL Financial Assistance Program.

Priority Evaluation and Ranking Form

Interested municipalities must submit a PERF no later than November 16, 2020. (Since November 15th falls on a Sunday, that deadline, by statute, is extended to Monday.) Any PERF submitted after that date will go to the bottom of the priority list.

  • 8700-383 Private LSL Replacement Program Priority Evaluation and Ranking Formula (PERF)

The criteria that will be used to evaluate applicants include:

  • Percentage of population below 200% of the federal poverty level
  • Municipal population
  • Whether a mandatory replacement ordinance has been enacted
  • Percentage of customer-side service lines identified
  • Percentage of customer-side service lines that are lead or galvanized
  • Exceedance of NR 809 lead action levels

Application

Applications for 2021 construction season funding will be accepted starting in mid-September 2020. Municipalities will be required to submit their applications via email to DNRLSLfunding@wisconsin.gov. Electronic signatures will be allowed. The application will also serve as the Intent to Apply (ITA) for the project as well as a request to waive the ITA deadline. No separate ITA submittal is required.

  • In order to receive an award for the full construction season, applications should be submitted no later than February 2021. All applications for the 2021 construction season must be submitted by June 30, 2021.
  • 8700-382 Private LSL Replacement Program Application

Setting up a municipal LSL replacement program

Municipalities have options for how they establish a private LSL replacement program, with the understanding that the LSL PF can only be used for the cost of replacing private LSLs that result in the full replacement of the lead service line for that property. There are a number of things that need to be considered when deciding how to set up a private LSL replacement program.

Private LSL replacement can be accomplished through a municipally-bid contract or through a municipal program where the homeowners contract directly with a plumber/contractor from a prequalified list. These options are described in detail below.

Note: The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) licenses plumbers and enforces the state plumbing codes.

Municipal program with prequalified list of plumbers

Under this option the municipality issues a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in order to prequalify plumbers/contractors for participation in the private LSL replacement program (see Prequalification Considerations). Homeowners contract directly with a plumber from the prequalified list and then are either reimbursed by the municipality or the municipality can pay the plumber directly on the homeowner's behalf. If the municipality will be paying the plumber/contractor directly, this must be explicitly stated in the agreements established between the municipality and the homeowners.

If plumbers/contractors on the prequalified list do not want to handle site restoration, it is permissible to use the RFQ process to develop a list of prequalified contractors (landscapers, etc.) for homeowners to contract with directly for the purpose of site restoration.

Municipal Programs were the most requested option under the DNR's previous two-year private LSL replacement program. Municipalities developed their own criteria for the programs, including:

  • funds prioritized based on the age of the children in the home;
  • funds prioritized based on household income;
  • fully-funded private LSL replacement;
  • cost-shared private LSL replacement;
  • funds made available through a revolving loan program (note that funds must revolve until all private LSLs in the municipality have been replaced);
  • voluntary homeowner participation; and
  • mandatory homeowner participation.

Municipal contract

Under this option the municipality bids out the private LSL replacement work through their normal municipal contracting process. All costs are paid directly by the municipality who coordinates the timing of the private LSL replacement with the homeowner.If desired by the municipality, cost-sharing by the homeowner can still be required under this method.

Federal requirements

Private Lead Service Line Replacement projects are federally funded; therefore, federal requirements apply.

Davis-Bacon wage rates

  • For municipal contracts - Federal Davis-Bacon wage rates are required when the municipality directly contracts for the work. For further guidance, please see Complying with Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA).
  • For municipal programs - Federal Davis-Bacon wage rates may not be required when the homeowner contracts directly with the prequalified plumber, even if the municipality pays the plumber directly. Applicability depends on property ownership or the type of firm performing the work. In addition, Davis-Bacon wage rates are not required on contracts for less than $2,000. For further guidance, please see Davis-Bacon Applicability in the Private LSL Replacement Program.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) solicitation

  • For municipal programs – required as part of the prequalification process and if any subcontracting is done.
  • For municipal contracts – required as part of the bidder solicitation process and if any subcontracting is done.
  • Suggested language for bid advertisement or plumber prequalification: "We encourage DBEs, including MBEs and WBEs, to submit bid proposals/apply for the purpose of being included on the municipality's list of prequalified plumbers for the Private Lead Service Line replacement program."
  • DBE Solicitation Guidance is available on our website.

Environmental Review (ER)

Please utilize the Environmental Reviews Guide document for more information related to obtaining the documentation needed to conduct an environmental review. The bullets below are links to required documents for an environmental review.

  • Endangered Species – submit to DNR a NHI Public Portal Preliminary Assessment.
  • Submit to DNR any waterway or wetlands permits.
  • Maps required for submittal are able to be created in the Surface Water Data Viewer.
    • Archaeological/Historical – submit to DNR a USGS 1:24,000 (max scale), 7.5- minute topo map(s) clearly showing the disturbance footprint(s) and surrounding area.
    • Surface Water – submit to DNR two maps: a map with floodplain layers and a map with wetlands/wetland indicators, both clearly showing the disturbance footprint(s) and surrounding area.

American Iron and Steel (AIS)

  • This requirement may not effect LSL replacement projects but must still be included.
  • Plumbers on a prequalified list or bidders on a municipal contract should certify to the following: "All materials used in the project are in full compliance with the American Iron and Steel requirement as mandated in EPA's State Revolving Fund programs."
  • See our AIS webpage for further guidance.

Resources

Sample mandatory LSL replacement ordinances

Questions and Answers for Homeowners PUB-CF-073

Visit the general LSL Replacements web page to read about the following:

  • Funding options for LSL replacement;
  • Concerns about lead and partial LSL replacements;
  • Lead pipe waste management;
  • Wisconsin resource communities for LSL replacements;
  • Toolkit from the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative;
  • Community Development Block Grant Housing Program; and
  • Environmental Defense Fund.

Previous two-year private LSL replacement program

Awards were made under the previous private LSL replacement program during State Fiscal Years (SFYs) 2017 and 2018. Eligibility was restricted to municipalities that qualified as disadvantaged under the SDWLP affordability criteria. Forty-two applicants were awarded over $26 million in principal forgiveness funding. Any funding released from awards made under the previous program will be rolled into the new private LSL replacement program.

Contact information
For information on this topic, contact:
LSL specialist

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Disclaimer of guidance: This document is intended solely as guidance and does not contain any mandatory requirements except where requirements found in statute or administrative rule are referenced. Any regulatory decisions made by the Department of Natural Resources in any matter addressed by this guidance will be made by applying the governing statutes and administrative rules to the relevant facts. Program implementation details are outlined in the governing administrative codes and statutes: §§ 281.59 and 281.61, Wis. Stat., and ch. NR 166, Wis. Adm. Code.