Boston encourages residents to get the lead out

Don’t be alarmed by the city’s lead-levels outreach, officials say — the city’s just looking to make sure you know you can get some cash to change your pipes.
Boston Water & Sewer Commission sent all of its customers a brochure about the dangers of lead with its December water bill, started with the unsettling bolded sentence “During the Fall 2020 sampling period Boston found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes.”
In fact — and though the brochure doesn’t say this — it was specifically five homes, and the city says it quickly let the owners know.
“If you were not contacted directly about this issue then, your household is not one of those five properties,” the commission said in a press release afterward. The organization conducts monitoring every year, and is increasing it currently.
Boston Water & Sewer insists that it’s not the one putting the lead in, and none of its pipes, or those of the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, contain the metal. Rather, it’s the old fixtures in people’s homes, many of which still have lead, which at one point was a common material for pipe-making — though health officials now know lead consumption can cause serious health problems.
That’s leading the city to continue to tell people to get the lead out in terms of getting the lead out.
“BWSC encourages Boston’s property owners to replace private lead water services through its Lead Incentive Replacement Program,” the brochure reads. “This program provides financial assistance of up to $2000.00 towards the cost of the replacement.”
City Councilor Michael Flaherty introduced a hearing order this week around lead in the water after concerned residents called up his office not knowing why they were receiving the brochure. He said the goal of the order is to let people know about the program, and that replacing their building’s lead pipes doesn’t have to be all that big of a cost.
“People may have a misperception that replacing lead pipes in their older homes comes at an exorbitant cost that they are not able to afford,” Flaherty said. “The BWSC has a Lead Replacement program that provides up to $2,000 for eligible residents and a team that is ready and available to assist residents navigate the process.”
He said, “It’s important to use the council’s platform to raise awareness about the program and explore how we can better incentivize residents to utilize the program. I am particularly interested in exploring how to create a fund, that is similar to the Senior Saves program, to help cover the costs of pipe replacements for our elderly residents that goes beyond what BWSC is able to provide.”

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