Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Lead pipes used in infrastructure

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2005
    Location
    German Broadway
    Posts
    23

    Lead pipes used in infrastructure

    Perhaps my ignorance is coming through...

    How have cities dealt with the problems of lead leaching into drinking water from pipes used pre-1978 (or so)? I'm assuming projects have been undertaken to replace lead pipes with other, non-toxic materials (copper, etc), but is/was this the only alternative? Seems like a huge public works project...

  2. #2
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    1,584
    I'm not sure how widespread their use was in the latter half of the 1900s. I thought they were only a problem around the turn of the 1900s, but I could be mistaken.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,938
    It was an issue in Madison, Wisconsin a couple years ago. Lead pipes were used into the 1930's, which meant there was a need for retrofitting in many older neighborhoods. The problem was mostly with private laterals, not the city-owned infrastructure, which meant that a majority of the cost was assessed to homeowners. They were very pleased to receive these bills.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    South Milwaukee
    Posts
    8,935
    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    It was an issue in Madison, Wisconsin a couple years ago. Lead pipes were used into the 1930's, which meant there was a need for retrofitting in many older neighborhoods. The problem was mostly with private laterals, not the city-owned infrastructure, which meant that a majority of the cost was assessed to homeowners. They were very pleased to receive these bills.
    Milwaukee is the same way. There is no special project to remove and replace these mains and laterals. Just the normal capital improvement program based on physical need to replace. And like Madison, the costs are assessed back, so many propoerty owners can't afford the bills, fight the projects, and keep their lead pipes.

    My new house has a lead service lateral and some of its original lead pipes. Over time I will propobably update the interior plumbing, but not the 100+ foot long service lateral. The research I have come across indicates its not too bad for adults, and just suggests that if you drink the tap water or use tap water for cooking, run the faucet for a bit to clear the water that was "standing" in the pipes. The fresh water running through will not absorb anything significant.

  5. #5
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,526
    Wasn't this the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    1,584
    It's been speculated, yes - but ultimately it would have played a small role. The main reason is that the Roman empire lost economic momentum. New conquests and expansion had been keeping the empire afloat, and when that slowed, things decayed very quickly. Near the end of the empire the Romans still had to maintain a mammoth standing army (a drain because these soldiers were not producing, only consuming - regular Romans had to make up the gap), as well as supporting over 200,000 Roman families with the equivalent of welfare (providing grain and other foodstuffs).

    Lead pipes were the least of their problems.

  7. #7

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 11
    Last post: 12 Jul 2010, 9:50 AM
  2. Phrases that lead to bad planning
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 22
    Last post: 09 Jul 2010, 1:10 PM
  3. Replies: 23
    Last post: 30 Sep 2005, 2:11 PM
  4. Replies: 18
    Last post: 26 Apr 2004, 5:44 PM