City of Lincoln Launches Lead Water Service Line Replacement Program

LINCOLN–(News Release Feb. 22)–Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird with state and local officials today announced the launch of a new, multi-year lead water service line replacement program to promote the health and safety of Lincoln residents. The program is part of the City of Lincoln’s Lead Safe Lincoln initiative, launched in 2022 to proactively prevent community members’ exposure to lead.

“Thanks to this historic funding opportunity made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, our City of Lincoln teams have big plans in the pipeline to ensure that every pipeline in our community is free of lead and provides safe, healthy water for our children and families for years to come,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird.

The first phase of the program is scheduled to launch this spring with the goal to replace 200 water service lines to homes in the first year, at no cost to the property owners. Water service lines are smaller pipelines that connect a home or business to the City’s public water main located under the street. The City will contact property owners via mail and will schedule in-home inspections prior to the work. City-contracted plumbers will complete the replacement work.

The service line replacement project is part of a multi-year program made possible through a $32.6 million loan from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. The funding for this program stems from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocated $145 million to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program in Nebraska.

Joining Mayor Gaylor Baird at the news conference were Lincoln Transportation and Utilities (LTU) Director Liz Elliott, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department Director Pat Lopez, Urban Development Director Peter Hind, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) Director Jim Macy, and City Council member Brodey Weber.

Director Elliott said the initial 200 properties to be served were identified using criteria recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, which include property records, blood lead levels in children, social vulnerability data, and the risk of lead exposure due to the amount of lead in service lines.

LTU has identified nearly 6,000 Lincoln properties eligible for service line replacement and continues to study properties throughout the city to determine service line status, Elliott said. The funding from NDEE is expected to cover the cost of about 2,000 service line replacements over the next five years.

“Homes and businesses built before 1950 may have lead or lead-contaminated galvanized steel service lines. These privately-owned lines have the potential to add lead to the water at the home or business. Our goal is to identify and replace all of these lines with new, safe, copper service lines by the year 2035,” Elliott said.

Director Lopez emphasized the importance of the program in preventing lead exposure in children and families. From September 2022 to September 2023, the Health Department tested more than 4,500 children for lead, and 82 children tested positive. Lopez said the service line replacement program helps further the Health Department’s work to prevent and reduce the risk of lead exposure to children and families.

“Protecting children from lead is important to a lifetime of good health. As part of Lead Safe Lincoln, the Health Department helps reduce the risk of lead exposure in children by providing lead testing and identifying and removing lead hazards in homes,” Lopez said.

Director Hind said that since the Lead Safe Lincoln initiative launched in 2022, the Urban Development Department has completed 94 home inspections, resulting in lead being removed from 52 homes. Hind said the Urban Development Department goal for 2024 is to remove lead from 50 residences.

“Our partnership with the Health Department underscores our commitment to creating healthier living environments for families. By removing lead from homes and replacing lead service lines, we are taking tangible steps toward a Lead Safe Lincoln,” Hind said.

Councilmember Weber expressed gratitude for the program’s resources and underscored its significance for the community’s health and future.

“This initiative represents more than just infrastructure improvements; it’s an investment in the well-being of every person in our city, ensuring a safer and healthier environment for generations to come,” Weber said.

Director Macy noted Lincoln’s long history of providing safe water to the community and commended Lincoln’s proactive approach.

“The funding provided through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program demonstrates our commitment to supporting lead service line replacement efforts across the state. Lincoln’s initiative sets an example for other communities to prioritize lead safety,” Macy said. “The City of Lincoln’s willingness to step forward and replace privately owned lead lines is remarkable and an important project that will improve public health in the community.”

For more information and to determine whether your property service line is lead or galvanized, visit the Lead Service Line Replacement website at