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Potential new program would help Grand Forks homeowners save on the cost of replacing lead service lines

The lead service line replacement program still needs to be finalized with funding for the program potentially coming from the North Dakota revolving loan program

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The sun rises behind a water tower in Grand Forks. (Grand Forks Herald photo)
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GRAND FORKS — A program to cover the majority of replacement costs for lead service lines could save homeowners in Grand Forks up to $2,200.

The lead service line replacement program would cover 90% of replacement costs, meaning homeowners will only be responsible for the remaining 10%. The city of Grand Forks is working with the city of Bismarck, which also offers a rebate to residents for replacing lead service lines.

Melanie Parvey, the water works director, said the program in Grand Forks would be set up similarly to Bismarck so that residents would work with a local, pre-approved contractor to get those lead service lines replaced. While the city has a list of pre-approved contractors who are licensed in the state, Parvey said homeowners can have a different contractor, but the city would still need to ensure the work would be done to the city’s standards.

Parvey said, on average, the cost to replace a service line is about $2,500. The program has been developed where residents wouldn’t be expected to pay more than $1,000 for the costs of the project. Parvey said she is hopeful most projects are pretty normal and don’t cause any damage, as restoration can occur — meaning sidewalks may need to be replaced when the service lines are replaced.

“We’re hoping, on average, it could save the homeowners about $2,200,” Parvey said.

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The rebate from this program will only be available to homeowners who haven’t already replaced their lead service lines.

It’s estimated by water distribution staff that 1,300 residents throughout the city have lead service lines. Of those 1,300, so far 960 are known to be lead while the rest still need to be documented whether they’re lead or copper. Parvey said work will be underway to get those numbers finalized in the coming months.

“We’re going to work this summer on getting more detailed information so as we determine if they’re lead or copper, we’ll put them on those separate lists,” she said. “But we’ll need residents to work with us to determine if they’ve got lead or copper.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control, lead service lines are typically the most significant sources of lead found in water. Lead service lines are most likely found in houses built prior to 1986.

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City Administrator Todd Feland said the sale of both centers has been planned for years as the city reduces the number of city-owned properties that are leased to tenants.

The program still needs to be finalized, as the council just approved filling an application with the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality for a loan under the Clean Water Act at the April 4 City Council meeting.

Parvey said $375,000 has been requested from the North Dakota revolving loan program to assist with the lead service line replacement program and an application has now been submitted with the state’s DEQ.

At the beginning of the year the water works department was notified by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that the project for the lead service line replacement program was included in the DWSRF’s 2022 project priorities.

Parvey said she doesn’t know when she’ll hear back from the state regarding whether the city will receive the state funding, but wants to wait until there is funding before starting the program.

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“If we get towards May or June and we don’t have a decision on that, it might be something where we can ask City Council to get different funding options for the project,” Parvey said. “But I’d like to be able to get that funding if we can, which we’ve been informed there’s a pretty good chance of.”

Related Topics: CITY OF GRAND FORKS
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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