The Clean Water Blog

Lead Service Line

Getting the Lead Out: State Disclosure Policies

Eliminating exposure to lead in tap water means getting lead out of contact with drinking water. The largest source of lead in water systems is the lead service lines that bring water from the main (large pipe) to the house or other building. Replacing lead service lines is a critical step to lead –free water.

There’s no magic solution to the challenges of lead service line replacement, but there are local, state and federal policies that could support communities and water systems in this effort.

One policy is to disclose the presence of a lead service line when a property is being sold. In a new report released today, the Environmental Defense Fund grades states on policies that enable homebuyers to identify the presence of a lead service line before purchase. Disclosure upon real estate transactions can, over time,  increase awareness and support efforts to address affordability problems and replace lead service lines.

Disclosure policies vary widely.  For example in states where Clean Water Action works, we see one high grade and two very low grades:

Connecticut gets an A- for having a state-required disclosure form that asks if lead plumbing is present.

Massachusetts and Virginia get an F for limited or no disclosure requirements.

You can learn more about lead service line disclosure and state policies in the Environmental Defense Fund report: Grading the Nation: State Disclosure Policies for Lead Pipes.

Supporting lead service line disclosure during real estate transactions won’t solve the lead service line issue on its own, but it’s a common sense approach that can support broader efforts. Replacing lead service lines is expensive, disruptive and will take time.  Ultimately, it requires a community-wide commitment, which is one reason Clean Water Action helped found the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative to develop tools to assist communities in developing a collaborative process to commit to replacing lead service lines.  Learn more about the Collaborative here.