Cincinnati Water Works Updates On Lead Progress

Jun 10, 2016

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works has sent out 1,543 test kits so residents can check the lead level in their drinking water. So far, 853 have been analyzed and 21 properties have levels that are concerning.  

Part of the issue is lead service lines going between the water mains in the streets and homes and businesses. Officials have been replacing and trying to eliminate the city-owned portion of those service lines, but there are still some 16,000 in place.  

Council Member Christopher Smitherman said he is concerned about the 21 samples.

"I feel very passionate that these 21 properties that we need to have a conversation at this level about how we deal with the private property owners that cannot afford to remove those lead pipes from their property now that we know that there is an issue on that site," Smitherman said.

Of the 21 properties, owners of three are working to address the lead-service lines on their properties.

Vice Mayor David Mann said the city may need to do more.

"One would summarize that there are a bunch of other people out there that probably have the same problem," Mann said. "I hope at some point you'll turn to the question (of) whether the city has some duty to be more proactive in helping identify those property owners."

Officials have been working since 1971 to replace the city's portion of the service lines. It is a slow and expensive process. Plus, the city can only replace the public portion of the service line.  It is up to home and business owners to replace the lines on their private properties.  

City Council could soon be asked to provide additional funding to accelerate the city's replacement program, and also provide an assistance program to help homeowners with the expenses of replacing the lines on their properties.