Millions of Americans are exposed to lead contaminated drinking water every day because of the estimated 9.2 million lead pipes and service lines buried under our homes, businesses, and schools. The most effective way to eliminate this risk and prevent future crises is to remove and replace all lead service lines with an immediate and long-term solution, whether for communities at large or for homeowners responsible for the replacement on their property.
While small and disadvantaged communities are most often impacted, lead service lines are a national health crisis. Federal and non-federal funding is available to assist states and water utilities with lead service line replacement and rebates are increasingly available to homeowners when replacing the lead service lines on their own property.
The decisions made now by city officials, property owners, and installers will have effects long into the future.
The Get the Lead Out Toolkit provides resources to understand and advocate for proper remediation of lead service lines and to help make informed decisions when tackling the issue of lead service lines in communities and homes. Share these resources with your local leadership, constituents, and on your social media platforms.
Lead in Our Water
- Between 1900 and 1950, a majority of America’s largest cities installed lead water pipes, with some cities even mandating them for their durability.
- A survey by NRDC showed that lead service lines are likely in use in every state, and that many states and utilities do not know where their lead service lines are.
- There are currently up to 10 million lead service lines serving water to US homes and schools.
- If there are lead pipes, one change of the water supply or water treatment can expose an entire community to unsafe levels of lead in their drinking water.
- You can’t see, taste, or smell lead. When this neurotoxin enters the body, wreaks havoc on the brain and nervous system. There is no acceptable amount lead exposure according to the EPA.
- Children are most at risk, due to the long-term effects of lead poisoning, which can include a reduction in intellectual functioning and IQ, and an increased chance of Alzheimer's disease.
- Patchwork solutions or using cheaper materials will cost more in the long term at best. At worst, it can lead to more lead exposure, risking the health and safety of residents.
- The EPA allocated $3 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to states, Tribes, and Territories for lead service line replacement in 2022, and calling on states to prioritize underserved communities.
Copper Water Service Line
- Copper is the only service line material that is 100% impermeable in the underground environment, preventing contamination from entering the water system through the pipe wall.
- Copper’s superior attributes include corrosion resistance, formability, resiliency, impermeability and sustainability, performing well beyond any other material.
- Copper is the most widely used plumbing material in the developed world. It is the dominant choice for water service lines for the past 50 years.
- Copper provides a durable, reliable, long-term solution for infrastructure needs, lasting 75-100 years.
- 80 percent of all utilities choose copper for service lines to provide clean and safe drinking water.
- Copper is extremely resistant to heat and will not burn or emit cancer-causing toxins in the event of a fire, such as other piping materials are proven to do.
- Copper is the only service line piping material that offers the proven history of longevity, reliability, safety, and life-cycle cost effectiveness to meet the challenges required in today’s infrastructure decisions.
See how other communities including Flint, Michigan; Newark, New Jersey; Benton Harbor, Michigan; Fort Worth, Texas; and Denver, Colorado successfully solved their lead service line problem.
Best Practices for Replacing Lead Service Lines: A Guide for Contractors
A step-by-step guide from trenching methods to proper tube-end preparation for replacing lead service lines with copper tubing.
Best Practices for What to Look for when Replacing Lead Service Lines: A Guide for Inspectors
A visual guide for inspectors replacing lead service lines, from proper material and connections / joints to proper installation techniques.
Copper: The Right Choice for Water Service Lines
A fact sheet detailing the history and proven benefits of copper for water infrastructure, including its unrivalled sustainability, reliability, and performance.
The False Initial Cost Economy
An analysis of the life cycle cost comparison of copper versus two plastic service line materials over the course of a planned 75-year service term. Findings: Reliability Trumps First Cos
Additional Information & Resources For
City Officials & Water Utilities
Building & Home Owners
Contractors & Installers
For more information, contact Marcus Elmer at the Copper Development Association.