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Lead Service Line (LSL) Replacements

Program implementation details are outlined in the governing administrative codes and statutes: §§ 281.58 and 281.59 and 281.61, Wis. Stat., and chs. NR 162 and 166, Wis. Adm. Code.

Removing lead service lines is one way to minimize the potential for lead to get into your drinking water. The Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Drinking Water & Groundwater provides information regarding the concerns of lead in drinking water.

Funding options for lead service line replacement

Options for funding the replacement of private lead service lines (LSLs) include:

Concerns about lead and partial lead service line replacements

New national research on lead in drinking water has raised concerns within DNR regarding the potential for increased lead levels when partial LSL replacement occurs. The Department is advising that municipalities replace lead service lines in their entirety – partially replacing lead service lines can increase lead levels in homes. Visit the DNR Drinking Water & Groundwater Bureau's Drinking Water & Lead Web page for more information on lead in drinking water.

Infographic of meter, service line, curb stop, service line, and water main. In most Wisconsin municipalities, the private property owner is responsible for the service line from the curb stop to the home (this includes all plumbing except for the water meter inside the property). The municipality is responsible for the service line from the water main to the curb stop. In most Wisconsin municipalities, the private property owner is responsible for the service line from the curb stop to the home (this includes all plumbing except for the water meter inside the property). The municipality is responsible for the service line from the water main to the curb stop.

Lead pipe waste management

What to do with lead pipes after they are removed from service:

The Department recommends lead pipe materials removed from water services be managed through reclamation rather than disposal. A provision in ch. NR 661.02(3)(c), Wis. Admin. Code, allows for management of what would otherwise be waste scrap metal to be managed as a solid waste provided the scrap metal is reclaimed.

Municipalities are encouraged to carefully evaluate scrap dealers who might take this waste to ensure the lead pipe materials will be properly recycled. Recycled lead can be put back into use through lead-acid batteries, lead shielding, and other valuable uses.

If a municipality chooses to dispose of the lead materials, it will be necessary to characterize the waste to determine whether it exhibits a hazardous characteristic for lead. Lead pipe materials would likely fail TCLP for lead and would then need to be managed as a hazardous waste. Lead pipe materials determined to be nonhazardous could be disposed of in a solid waste landfill.

Waste determinations

For more information on waste determinations, please contact your DNR regional hazardous waste management specialist.

Additional resources

Wisconsin resource communities for LSL replacements

The document, Resource Communities for Lead Service Line (LSL) Replacements, provides contact information for municipalites with LSL projects. The municipal contacts may answer your LSL questions and provide insights into LSL difficulties, such as: ordinances, small community issues, inventory, Environmental Review process, technical issues, effective customer communications, websites, and more.

Toolkit from the Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Collaborative

The LSLR Collaborative released a new toolkit for utilities, public health officials, and local leaders to tackle lead pipes in their communities. The online toolkit includes: a roadmap for getting started; suggested practices to identify and remove lead service lines in a safe, equitable, and cost-effective manner; policies that federal and state leaders could adopt to support local efforts; and links to additional resources that may be helpful when developing local programs.

Strategies to obtain customer approval

The document, Strategies to Obtain Customer Acceptance of Complete Lead Service Line Replacement, presents an approach to obtain customer approval for replacement of the lead service line on their property. It focuses on key elements of proven utility programs for readers to consider when developing their own local cost-efficient program. This document summarizes the regulatory requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule as it pertains to lead service line replacement. (Produced by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).)

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Housing Program

The Department of Administration (DOA) CDBG Housing Program will work with qualified homeowners to assess hazards in their homes, including lead service lines. The 0% interest loan would cover the costs for addressing all hazards, not just lead lines. Repayment on the loan is deferred until the home is sold or no longer the homeowner's primary residence. Visit DOA's CDBG Housing Program webpage for more information.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is recognizing community efforts to replace LSLs. Communities throughout the U.S. aim to replace at least 240,605* lead pipes in their water systems.

  • *Estimate of the total LSLs for which communities have set a goal to replace. This number is likely an underestimate, as most communities do not know where all of the LSLs are located.
Contact information
For information on this topic, contact:
Becky Scott or Frank Fuja

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Disclaimer of guidance: This document is intended solely as guidance and does not contain any mandatory requirements except where requirements found in statute or administrative rule are referenced. Any regulatory decisions made by the Department of Natural Resources in any matter addressed by this guidance will be made by applying the governing statutes and administrative rules to the relevant facts.

Last revised: Wednesday March 11 2020