Council Approves Help For Lead Pipes
But not a lot. Program will replace 300 lead laterals a year, with help for homeowners.
The Milwaukee Common Council today approved a plan to replace approximately 300 lead laterals in 2017 and to mandate the replacement of privately-owned lead laterals when any portion of the lateral breaks, with the city paying two-thirds of the cost.
The program was sponsored by council president Ashanti Hamilton and the council’s water watchdog, Ald. Jim Bohl and passed on a 12-3 vote, but not before some controversy arose. The plan will require owners of lead laterals to replace their service lines within 10 days of a break at a maximum cost of $1,600 or one-third of the total cost, whichever is less. The city will pick up the rest of the tab, as well as replacing the city-owned portion of the lateral. If homeowners use a city-sanctioned contractor they will be able to pay off the measure on their property tax bill over 10 years.
The new mandate will not be triggered in the event of a water main break. The legislation only covers the lateral, which connects a home or building to the city’s water system. Replacing laterals has historically been a tricky proposition because the segment running from the water main to the property line is owned by the city, and the segment running from the property line into the building is privately owned. The legislation was spurred in part by high-profile incidents of poorly-treated water in Flint as well as the reality that if any portion of a lead lateral is damaged the amount of lead that can leak into drinking water is greatly increased.
All of which wasn’t met with universal admiration. During her floor speech on the issue Ald. Milele Coggs said that “as we know with every policy we create, we can never make everyone happy.” That was abundantly clear as members of the Milwaukee chapter of the Black Panther Party yelled “horeshit” repeatedly following the legislation’s adoption. In an interview following the legislation, the Black Panthers leader King Rick noted that “if we didn’t have to pay for anything it would be sufficient because we are a poor community.” Rick went on to to say that “we are going to disturb and disrupt everything you have fun with” including Summerfest and other festivals until they are heard on the matter.
As with any good Milwaukee political debate, the measure wasn’t approved until one council member was able to reference the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, the Milwaukee Streetcar and for good measure, Donald Trump.
Ald. Mark Borkowski led the opposition to the new program. The alderman said “my perception on this item is that this is us raising the flag that we are giving up.” Borkowski, who was later accused of “grandstanding” by Bohl, went on to question the city’s methodology for determining the location of lead service lines before attacking the funding of the streetcar and arena and raising the idea of President-elect Trump putting together an infrastructure package to fund city-wide replacement. Borkowski moved to hold the measure in council another session, noting that he would work with Robert Miranda‘s Freshwater for Life Action Coalition to get what the alderman called “a second opinion.” The motion to hold failed with only six votes in favor.
An amendment to the bill that passed, drafted during today’s meeting by the city’s Legislative Reference Bureau, was introduced by alderman Russell Stamper II and co-sponsored by council members Coggs and Khalif Rainey. The amendment requires the program be reauthorized after one year and creates a quarterly reporting process. It was unanimously adopted. Alderman Rainey, a sponsor of the amendment, predictably voted for his amendment, and then in an odd move voted against the bill as a whole. The alderman has not returned a request for comment on the matter.
Rainey and Borkowski were joined in voting against the legislation by Ald. Tony Zielinski.
A separate 2017 budget measure will also fund the replacement of lead laterals at 385 child care facilities and 15 private schools across the city .
Curious if your home has a lead lateral? The city has produced a guide listing all of the affected properties.
More about the Lead Service Lines
- Evers Demands Action on Wisconsin’s Drinking Water Crisis - Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers - Mar 21st, 2018
- Op Ed: How City Should Solve Lead in Water - Noelle Chesley, Anne Dressel, John Berges, and Helen Meier - Mar 2nd, 2018
- Alderman Bohl: A better strategy is needed in dealing with lead laterals - Ald. Jim Bohl - Feb 26th, 2018
- City Hall: McManus Lays Out Three Priorities for Health Department - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 23rd, 2018
- Governor Walker Signs Leading on Lead Act into Law - Gov. Scott Walker - Feb 21st, 2018
- City Hall: Mayor Allows Interim Health Leader - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2018
- City Hall: Will Mayor Confirm Health Commissioner? - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 14th, 2018
- City Hall: HUD Halts City Lead Treatment Program - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 12th, 2018
- From Dr. Patricia McManus: Comments clarified - Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton - Feb 9th, 2018
- Comments by newly appointed interim Health Department commissioner troubling - Ald. Michael Murphy - Feb 9th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Appoints McManus Interim Health Leader - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 6th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Withdraws Nannis Nomination - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 5th, 2018
- FLAC Calls on Common Council to Confirm Dr. Patricia McManus as Interim Health Commissioner - Freshwater For Life Action Coalition - Feb 3rd, 2018
- Silence is Complicity – If You See Something, Please Say Something - Ald. Milele Coggs - Feb 2nd, 2018
- Gag Order for Health Department Employees Lifted by Mayor - Ald. Bob Donovan - Feb 1st, 2018
- Resolution Aims to Take Down Milwaukee Health Department’s Restrictive Communication Policy - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Feb 1st, 2018
- Common Council Alerts At-Risk Populations of Lead Risks After City of Milwaukee Health Department Fails to Notify Public - Milwaukee Common Council - Jan 31st, 2018
- Key Details Missing from the Mayor’s Account of Lead Testing Crisis - Ald. Khalif Rainey - Jan 31st, 2018
- What We Really Need: Answers - Ald. Russell Stamper, II - Jan 31st, 2018
- The Administration has Lost the Common Council’s Confidence in Addressing the Lead Issue - Ald. Jose Perez - Jan 30th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Report Finds Health Dept. Problems - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 30th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Could Reject Interim Health Leader - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 30th, 2018
- Aldermen Ask City Attorney for Legality of Paul Nannis’ position - Milwaukee Common Council - Jan 29th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $750 Million to Replace Lead Pipes - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 24th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Responds to Lead Crisis - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 23rd, 2018
- Legislation seeks lead service line replacement for city-owned properties - Ald. Bob Bauman - Jan 19th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Grills Mayor, City Health Staff - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 17th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Launches Health Dept. Probe - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 17th, 2018
- Resolution calls for Milwaukee Water to give public lead updates - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Jan 17th, 2018
- Commissioner Baker’s departure leaves us all with many, many questions - Ald. Bob Donovan - Jan 16th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Ousts Bevan Baker Over Lead Fiasco - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 12th, 2018
- Health Department mistakes worsen city’s lead crisis - Ald. Mark Borkowski - Jan 12th, 2018
- Council set to act on Health Department crisis - Milwaukee Common Council - Jan 12th, 2018
- Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC) to Hold Press Conference After Announcement Of Firing Health Commissioner Bevan Baker - Freshwater For Life Action Coalition - Jan 12th, 2018
- Is City Dragging Feet on Lead Filters? - Jabril Faraj and Elliot Hughes - Jan 3rd, 2018
- Common Council Strengthens Lead Standards - Jabril Faraj - Dec 5th, 2017
- One Step Closer to Tackling Wisconsin’s Lead Crisis - State Sen. Chris Larson - Oct 31st, 2017
- Advocates Push City On Lead Pipes - Jabril Faraj - Oct 25th, 2017
- Lead Poisoning a “Public Health Crisis” - Jabril Faraj - Jul 19th, 2017
- National Water Expert Retracts Criticism of City Health Department - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Jul 14th, 2017
- Governor Walker Announces 35 Municipalities to Receive a Total of $13.8 Million to Remove Lead Service Lines - Gov. Scott Walker - Jun 28th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: WMC Opposes Lead Pipes Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Apr 20th, 2017
- Op Ed: State Action Needed on Lead Pipes Problem - Chris Walker - Mar 12th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: How Milwaukee Handled “Flint” Crisis - Bruce Murphy - Jan 19th, 2017
- Tainted Water: State’s Failures On Lead Pipes - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Jan 15th, 2017
- Tainted Water: Lax Rules Expose Kids To Lead-Tainted Water - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 19th, 2016
- Tainted Water: DNR Program Replaces Lead Laterals - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 19th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Approves Help For Lead Pipes - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 13th, 2016
- Tainted Water: DNR Delays on Lead Poisoning Issue - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 4th, 2016