Lead Free SPRWS logo

Lead Free SPRWS is a 10 year plan to replace all lead water service lines in the SPRWS service area at no cost to property owners.

The program will begin in full in 2023. During 2022 a small pilot of this program was offered to those with lead service lines in water main construction project areas.

Click here for a short video introducing Lead Free SPRWS featuring St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and SPRWS General Manager Patrick Shea.

Program Info

Last updated: December 2, 2022

How many SPRWS customers have lead?

SPRWS serves about 96,000 properties. Of those, about 26,000 (28 percent) have a lead service line.

When will my lead service line be replaced?

We are actively planning the next ten years of the program. We are obtaining funding and choosing an appropriate number of replacements to complete each year based on the funding. The SPRWS service area will be divided into project zones. We will prioritize based on several factors. We will share this information on our website as soon as it is available. We will contact customers directly when we are coming to their area. To make sure we have the most up to date contact information or you, please call customer service at 651-266-6350.

What is happening in 2023 with lead?

Customers in 2023 eligible areas will be contacted directly and will have the opportunity to receive a lead service line replacement at no cost to them.

What if I do not want to wait? Can I replace my lead service line now?

Yes, customers can replace the part of the lead service line that they own at any point. However, at this time, SPRWS funding and crews will only apply to replacements within the determined project zones. Customers may work with outside contractors to complete their private side work at their own expense. Our assessment program for Saint Paul residents allows the costs of such replacement work to be assessed and collected through property taxes. For information on the assessment program view our lead replacement packet (PDF - 471KB) or call the SPRWS engineering division at 651-266-6270. SPRWS does not currently have funding to help offset the cost of private side replacements outside of project zones, but we are exploring options for providing partial funding. We understand customers want their lead removed but to use the funds available most effectively, we need to complete the work in coordinated projects. If a customer decides to replace the private side of a lead service line and the public side is also lead, SPRWS will replace the public lead side at no cost to the customer.

I had my lead service line replaced in the past. Am I eligible for reimbursement now?

No, unfortunately, funding is only available for upcoming project zones. We cannot reimburse property owners for previously completed or assessed work. The grant funding is only available for work completed as part of the Lead Free SPRWS program after March 2022.

Lead Service Line Info

What is a water service line and who owns it?

Water service lines are pipes that carry water from the water mains in the street into homes/buildings. SPRWS owns the part of the water service lines from the main in the street to the property line (public side). Individual property owners own the part from the property line to the meter inside the home (private side).

Diagram showing the portion of a water service considered private versus the portion owned by SPRWS

 How do I find out if I have a lead service?

Look up your address in the SPRWS service material map or call us at 651-266-6820.

What does it mean if my service material says "unknown"?

"Unknown" means our records for your address do not show material type for the private side of your water service line. As part of this project, we will work to resolve all “unknowns” and ensure those with lead can take part. To have one of our meter technicians identify your service line material call our Meter Operations team at 651-266-6850 and schedule an appointment.

What should I do if I have a lead service line?

SPRWS is committed to providing customers with safe, great tasting drinking water. Water leaves the treatment facility free of lead and travels through water mains that are not made of lead. Water is treated to minimize corrosion, but corrosion may occur when the water gets to an individual lead service line. Lead can get into drinking water from the service line between the street and your home and from the plumbing inside your home. SPRWS regularly tests drinking water lead levels in accordance with all federal and state drinking water standards. You can take measures including the following to minimize the effects of lead if you have a lead service line:

  • Do not drink or cook with water that has collected in plumbing for more than six hours
  • Clear water lines by running cold water for 3-5 minutes
  • Run the water before you drink from any faucet in the house
  • Use cold water for cooking, drinking, making baby formula
  • Clean faucet aerators at least once per month
  • Treat your water using a pitcher or filtration system that is NSF certified for lead

Program Steps

Before Replacement

Intent form

If you received a letter stating your property is eligible in 2023:

  1. Search for and click on your address in our service material map
  2. Select the "Submit an intent form" link in the pop-up that appears
  3. Complete and submit the intent form to express your interest in moving forward and ensure we have the right information to contact you throughout the process

Agreement Contract

Within a few weeks of submitting an intent form, we will reach out with a replacement agreement contract for you to sign. Sign and return it to us to continue in the replacement process.


Pre-construction Appointment

Once we have your signed agreement we will provide instructions for how to schedule a pre-construction appointment. This appointment will take place at your property and we will need access to the water meter in your basement. This brief appointment allows us to ensure no special considerations are needed to complete your replacement, and answer any questions you may have.

During Replacement

Digging

To get the pipes underground, crews will dig up 2-3 areas—one in the street, one in the boulevard, and possibly one in your front yard. We will minimize damage to landscaping and private property as best we can.


Replacement

The lead service line is replaced with a copper line. The new line is connected to the water main in the street at one end and your house plumbing at the other.


New Line Testing

Lead Free SPRWS staff test the new line and run water through it to flush out debris and lead particles.


Temporary Restoration

Holes in the yard and street are temporarily (not permanently) restored for safety, giving the ground time to settle.

After Replacement

Whole-House Flush

Once the service has been replaced and water service has been restored to your home, turn on the faucets throughout the home with cold water. Start with the faucet at the lowest level and work your way up to the highest level. This process will flush all of the water lines in the building.

After 30 minutes of running the water, shut off faucets starting at the lowest level and working your way up.


Clean Aerators

Remove faucet aerators/shower heads and clean out any particles that may have accumulated there.

The aerator is usually at the tip of the faucet and can be screwed off in order to clean it.


Routine Flush

For the next 30 days, run cold water through the plumbing in your home for 5 minutes each morning (or after an extended period of no water usage) before drinking or cooking. Taking a shower or bath will flush your lines.

Always use cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and baby formula preparation.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using a pitcher filter certified to NSF 53 standards for 6 months after replacing a lead service line. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions included with your filter packaging to know when and how to change the filter cartridge.


Permanent Restoration

Crews will return within 120 days to restore the holes in the yard, sidewalk, and street to prework conditions with seeding, concrete, paving, or a combination of all three.


Lead Test

We will offer a water sample test 3-6 months after replacement to check lead levels.

Funding and Rates

The public part of these replacements will be funded through SPRWS’ capital budget as they have been historically. There are currently no immediate plans to increase water rates for this project, though incremental rate increases may be considered as we develop strategies for fully funding the 10 year program. An estimated 6% total rate impact may be necessary over the next ten years to cover the associated public side expenses. SPRWS is actively applying for public funding to assist customers in covering the cost to replace the part of the lead service line owned by the property-owner. We are excited to share that the City of Saint Paul has committed $14.5M of American Rescue Plan funds to support this project. We also expect to receive significant funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which has allocated $215M to the State of Minnesota to be dispersed over the next 5 years.

Even with assumptions around funding sources listed above, there remains an approximate$100 million deficit to fully remove private lead service lines in our service area. We will continue to work to obtain additional funding to address this deficit.

Last Edited: December 2, 2022