Turnkey Help Available to Cities that Want to Expedite Lead Pipe Removal

By: Bill Eller

Congress is considering sending cities as much as $55 billion to remove lead water pipes and service lines from local communities. There are many moving parts to this initiative and some uncertainty about whether and when Congress will approve the funds.

The potential availability of federal money is the ultimate good-news-bad-news story. The good news: After decades of inaction, the federal government may be willing to fund the removal of lead pipes, a known health hazard. The bad news: Cities likely will be overwhelmed by the administrative, scheduling and managerial burdens entailed in removing those pipes, to say nothing of performing the actual pipe-removal work itself.

But the best news is this: Cities have an experienced, expert partner in HomeServe USA, which stands ready to handle all aspects of lead pipe removal on a turnkey basis. HomeServe, who administers the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, already works with nearly 700 cities making service line repairs for their residents. HomeServe does over 1,000 repairs across the country each day and has the service delivery platform, dispatch technology and contractor network to help remove this burden from a city.

The Problem

An estimated 9.2 million homes have lead water pipes and service lines, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  

Lead pipes were used for over 100 years in homes built mostly in the East Coast and Midwest, before scientists and public health professionals identified lead as a health risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Lead can slow development and cause learning, behavioral, and hearing problems in children, as well as lasting kidney and brain damage.

Lead pipes have been a known public health risk for decades, but only now is the federal government making funds available to remove those hazardous pipes.

The availability of federal money means homeowners no longer need to choose between protecting their families and paying for the removal of lead pipes. It can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 to remove those lines from a single-family home. Typically, homeowners have had to pay for this themselves. The work is not covered by insurance.

New Money Creates New Headaches for Cities

Administrators at the nation’s cities have their hands full transitioning to a post-pandemic world. If they have not managed a lead pipe removal program in their communities, many officials may be overwhelmed by a process that is complicated, multifaceted, and resource intensive.

All major construction projects have sizable administrative, scheduling, and managerial requirements. Lead pipe removal is no different. Is your city staffed to handle the new challenges?

Beyond administrative burdens, there’s the field work. Smaller cities, where the public works department may consist of only a handful of construction workers, don’t have nearly enough workers to handle these new tasks. That means bringing contractors on board.

Once the construction work begins, there’s a need for quality control. How many cities have QC inspectors on hand to review and certify the work of a contract construction firm? Then there’s the invoicing and accounts-payable process, with the inevitable back-and-forth if invoices were improperly submitted, which often is the case.

At most cities, staff is hard-pressed to fulfill the tasks of their normal jobs. On their best days, they can flex to temporarily cover workers who are on vacation or fill in for workers who have retired.

But removing lead pipes may require hiring additional staff to manage the process, perform the work, or both. How many cities, in the early stage of recovering financially from the pandemic, are ready to add new employees?

HomeServe USA Can Help

HomeServe USA wants to work with cities across the country to put those federal funds to work right away to get the lead pipes and service lines out of communities. Our long-time partnership with the National League of Cities (NLC) is evidence of our deep experience in working with towns and cities across the country. We have the requisite service delivery platforms, employ dedicated job schedulers, manage a dedicated nation-wide network of contractors, and have made significant investments in technology. 

We manage an unparalleled U.S. contractor network, which includes thousands of licensed and insured contractors who have performed over 4.5 million jobs all across the country. Our world-class logistics-management capabilities ensure your project is scheduled, managed, and completed according to schedule

To manage our national contractor network, we have built a large and robust referral and communications network that allows us to quickly and easily schedule work projects. Our call center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to ensure responsiveness to customer questions.

If you’re a city official and you’re looking for lead pipe removal solutions, we urge you to get in touch with HomeServe USA today. To learn more, click here or call (866) 974-4801.