031615-fp-middle-foldLead Pipes Cause For Concern Say Activists

Milwaukee – A press conference demanding that city leaders address lead lateral pipes on the property of 70,000 homes, mostly in Black and Brown neighborhoods in Milwaukee, was held last week in front of City Hall.

A Wisconsin Watch study of Water in Wisconsin found that the percentage of lead-poisoned children among those tested in Wisconsin – 4.5 percent – is similar to the 4.9 percent of children diagnosed in 2015 in the Flint region, where state and federal officials have declared a state of emergency over the spike in lead in drinking water and children’s blood.

However in Milwaukee “the percentage is even higher: 8.6 percent of children tested in 2014 had blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which children are known to suffer health problems, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Speakers at the press conference called out City Council member Robert Bauman for dismissing the issue when it came up at recent Rules and Steering Committee meeting saying the Council has been talking about this issue for a long time, and being cavalier about it.

Alderman Bayman admitted that the Council has been talking about the issue for a long time but doing nothing about it.

The Milwaukee Water Works has canceled 5 miles of water main replacement projects scheduled this year in older residential neighborhoods where lead pipes connect municipal mains to around 500 homes. The Milwaukee Water Works decision on main construction was made out of concern that the brief disconnection required in main replacement work temporarily would spike lead contamination in the drinking water to the homes connecting to water mains being worked on.

City officials say the water is safe. However, activists say the lead pipes present a real hazard to children and that the city should act immediately to create a strategic plan for removing them.