March 28, 2022
Office of Mayor Melvin Carter III
Saint Paul Regional Water Services
Saint Paul Announces $14.5 Million Investment to Replace Lead Pipes
Investment to Leverage American Rescue Plan Act Funds
to Remove Thousands of Lead Pipes Across the City
SAINT PAUL, MN – Today, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announced a $14.5 million American Rescue Plan investment to remove thousands of lead pipes across the city. Amid Saint Paul Regional Water Services’ ongoing work to replace citywide pipes in public rights-of-way, this investment will further bolster efforts to ensure the 435,000 customers served by our water services can continue to access safe, reliable drinking water.
"This investment is a major step toward cleaner water, more jobs, and peace of mind for our families,” said Mayor Carter.
“The EPA, CDC, and WHO all agree that there is no known safe level of lead in children. I am thrilled to see the City of Saint Paul and SPRWS launch an initiative that will not only remove the lead pipes from St. Paul in the next 10 years, but also create barrier free jobs and a career pathway program for people in Saint Paul,” said Saint Paul City Councilmember Chris Tolbert. “This will be a model for cities across the state and country on how to solve our shared problem of lead pipes in our water systems, while catalyzing people to attain living wage and middle class jobs.”
“Lead service line replacement is one of the most effective ways we can remove the risk of lead exposure from American homes,” said EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Bruno Pigott. “St. Paul’s investment in securing safe drinking water for its residents showcases the whole-of-government approach needed to reach President Biden’s goal of removing all lead-service lines over the next decade.”
“We are the land of 10,000 lakes – in a state that puts such a high priority on water, we need to get clean drinking water to people not only in St. Paul, but all over Minnesota,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “This is about updating St. Paul’s water system with better, safer, more resilient infrastructure.”
“All Minnesotans deserve to turn on the faucet and know that they have clean, safe drinking water,” said Senator Tina Smith. “Thanks to these transformational pieces of legislation, we’re on our way to eliminating a potential hazard for families. I’m proud of our work to pass these bills so that we can finally get to work replacing lead pipes here in Minnesota and across the country.”
“I strongly support St. Paul’s launch of the lead pipe replacement program to ensure safe drinking water for children, families, and seniors across the city,” said Congresswoman Betty McCollum. “This is a program that will protect public health and create jobs, which is a terrific use of the federal funds Democrats in Congress delivered with the American Rescue Plan.”
“On behalf of LIUNA Laborers’ Local 563, I applaud Mayor Carter and the Saint Paul City Council on this major investment to replace thousands of lead pipes across the city. This investment will improve the health and safety of our community, while creating family-sustaining union jobs for our members,” said Joe Fowler, Business Manager of LIUNA Local 563.
ABOUT SAINT PAUL REGIONAL WATER SERVICES
Saint Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) is the public drinking water utility for the city of Saint Paul and surrounding suburbs. SPRWS has been a public water utility since 1882, and currently serves approximately 450,000 customers, 435,000 of which are in Saint Paul.
In order to meet the demand for reliable, high-quality drinking water, SPRWS treats and pumps an average of 40 million gallons of water per day - enough to cover an entire football field in 93 feet of water - through a distribution system composed of more than 1,100 miles of water main, 10,000 hydrants, and 95,000 service lines.
SPRWS consistently ranks among the best drinking water in the state and won “Best in Glass” drinking water at the 2021 Annual Conference for the Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association (MN AWWA), held in Duluth, Minnesota. Learn more about Saint Paul Regional Water Services here.
ABOUT WATER CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
SPRWS engages in water construction projects on an ongoing basis which frequently involves coordinating projects on water mains in collaboration with municipalities doing road work. Current water construction projects include an array of efforts to maintain and improve water service across the SPRWS service area.
SPRWS owns and maintains the portion of the water service in street rights-of-way and replaces that portion of the service in conjunction with street maintenance projects, when a homeowner replaces their lead service on private property, or during targeted replacement projects. While SPRWS has continued to replace lead service pipes on an ongoing basis over the past 25 years, the cost to replace all remaining right-of-way lead pipes will total an estimated $82 million.
Today’s announcement represents an infusion of funds to bolster these ongoing lead pipe replacement efforts and precedes plans for a comprehensive review next year on short- and long-range replacement goals for the SPRWS service area. This comprehensive review also comes as the State of Minnesota prepares to leverage $43 million per year over the next 5 years in Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds for lead pipe replacement.
Amid this ongoing work to maintain and improve our public water infrastructure systems, property owners across our community own and responsible for maintenance and replacement of the service within private property. According to current SPRWS data, as many as 26,600 homes in the Saint Paul Regional Water Services system have lead water service pipes that need to be replaced. The estimated cost to these property owners to replace their private property is estimated at approximately $141 million. More information and resources for homeowners on lead service replacements is available on the SPRWS website here.