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News

The Issue With Lead Pipes

by Olivia Rivera,
Storyteller & Copywriter

The City of Pipestone

About as far southwest as you can get in Minnesota is the small town of Pipestone. Like many communities throughout the state, it is struggling to deal with aging water infrastructure. 

Founded in 1876, the intricate buildings lining the main streets hold more than just history. They also contain dangerous lead pipes. These pipes contaminate the community's water, leading to increased risk of brain and kidney damage and long-term developmental challenges in children. 

Pipestone Mayor Myron Koets testified during the House Health Finance and Policy Committee at the state Legislature earlier this year, sharing his concern for lead contamination in the community. 

“Based on estimates, we had somewhere between 225 and 300 lead service lines in our city and a cost of about $2500 to $3,000 each to replace.” For many families in Pipestone, paying out of pocket for pipe replacement is simply not an option. State and federal funding needs to be sourced to address this public health issue. 

Statewide Issue 

An estimated 100,000 to 260,000 lead water service lines throughout Minnesota put communities at risk. 

In Minneapolis alone, there are over 49,000 homes with lead pipes. The Star Tribune reports: “In 2021, the number of new children with lead poisoning rose 15% from the year before, the first increase in a decade, partly because families stayed home more during the pandemic.” 

Minneapolis needs over $320 million to replace lead service lines. The state must help address the cost of lead service lines to help guarantee that all Minnesotans have access to safe drinking water in their homes. 

Whether in a small town like Pipestone or a dense urban area like Minneapolis, residents could be at risk of lead contamination in their drinking water. Bipartisan bills to pay for lead service line replacement have been introduced in the Minnesota Legislature, and federal grants could be made available to Minnesota communities, but state legislators need to get bills across the finish line before the session ends on May 23rd.

Tell your legislators to support safe drinking water for Minnesota.

Learn more about Pipestone's lead contamination.

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Support Lead Pipe Replacement

Urge your representatives to make protecting our water and children from toxic lead exposure a top priority this session.