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Last lead pipe removed from Green Bay’s water system

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 3:01 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A five-year project to remove thousands of lead pipes in Green Bay wrapped up today, meaning the city’s water system is now completely lead pipe-free.

“I am so happy and proud today of what this utility has accomplished. The job you’re seeing here behind us has been done nearly 1,800 times by our crews,” says Nancy Quirk, Green Bay Water Utility General Manager.

After research earlier this decade identified thousands of lead pipes in the city’s water system, posing a health risk especially to children, Green Bay Water Utility set an ambitious goal, spurred on by the Flint, Michigan lead pipe crisis.

“The consequences of this crisis was public distrust, seeing this our Water Commission members wanted us to move fast to remove the lead services and we responded with a definite yes,” recalls Quirk.

Today on Emilie Street, the last lead pipe in the city was removed outside Deb Weaver’s home.

“To remove all the lead from the city pipes, that’s foresight in an incredible way, it took compassion, it took commitment, resources and a lot of hard work,” says Weaver.

The five year project cost Green Bay Water Utility roughly six million dollars, but thanks to state grants and the use of Lambeau tax credit funds, no homeowner paid out of pocket to have their lead pipes replaced.

Mayor Eric Genrich calls it a victory for the community’s health and EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross says it’s a model he wants to share across the country.

“It’s accountability, public accountability, you identified the problem, you were honest with your stakeholders that it’s gonna cost a little bit more money, it’s gonna take some time to do, there’s a public health risk, but this is our plan for addressing it and this is our time frame for addressing it and we will hold ourselves accountable to hit the targets that you did, that is really difficult to do in the public health and environmental space,” says Ross.

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