Lead Service Line (LSL) Replacement

The Commission is supportive of utilities' efforts to help ensure safe drinking water by replacing infrastructure containing lead, as well as the efforts of municipalities working with their residents to replace customer owned service lines that contain lead.  Replacement of LSLs often requires a collaborative effort involving the utility, municipality, local health department, and homeowners. The DNR has financial resources available for utility-side LSL replacement and recently provided funds to a limited number of communities to help fund replacement of customer-side LSLs. There are a number of technical resources designed to help utilities develop effective LSL replacement programs.  They include:

​Wisconsin Stat. § 196.372

While replacement of most utility-owned infrastructure containing lead, including mains, goosenecks, and service lines generally does not require approval from the Commission, the provision of financial assistance to help customers replace the customer-side of lead service lines does require Commission approval.  See Wis. Stat. § 196.372.  In order to use ratepayer dollars for replacement of customer-side lead service lines, utilities need to meet the requirements found in Wis. Stat § 196.372.  These requirements include:

  1. The municipal government in which the utility provides financial assistance must enact an ordinance that: a.) permits the utility to provide financial assistance to private property owners; and, b.) requires that customers replace their service lines that contain lead.
  2. When utilities replace a customer-side LSL, the utility must ensure that the utility-side service line and the main either do not currently contain lead or are replaced at the same time as the portion owned by the property owner.
  3. The utility must submit an application and obtain approval for its replacment program from the PSC.

Wisconsin Stat. §196.372 also includes definitions and restrictions on how a utility may provide financial assistance:

  1. "Customer-side water service line" means the portion of a water service line owned by a property owner.
  2. "Financial assistance" means a grant, loan, or combination thereof.
  3. "Utility-side water service line" means the portion of a water service line owned by a water public utility.
  4. Grants provided as financial assistance to a property owner may not exceed 50% of the cost to replace the customer-side water service line.
  5. Any loan provided to a property owner may not be forgiven by the utility or the municipality.
  6. If the utility intends to provide financial assistance as a percentage of the cost of replacing the property owner's portion of the service line, the percentage must be the same for each owner in a class of customers.
  7. If the utility intends to provide financial assistance as a specified dollar amount, the amount must be the same for each owner in a class of customers.

How to Apply for PSC Approval of Customer-Owned Lead Service Line Replacement Programs

  1. Schedule a Pre-Application Conference.  Commission staff recommends utilities with a high number of lead service lines or those that do not have experience with DNR's Private Lead Service Line Replacement Funding Program schedule a pre-application web conference with Commission and DNR staff.  These conferences are useful in helping utility staff understand the requirements of the PSC application process, as well as developing a LSL replacement program that incorporates sound industry practices for minimizing lead and copper in drinking water.  The utility should prepare a Power Point presentation that describes its proposed program and other items included in the Application Checklist for PSC Approval of Customer-Side Lead Service Lines.  The Power Point format will allow for utility and agency staff to participate remotely.

  2. Submit an Application to the Commission.  To apply for Commission approval, a utility should provide the information described in the application checklist and any additional information identified in the pre-application conference. Upload the completed application and related documents (PDF format) to the PSC Electronic Records Filing (ERF) System using the Utility's PSC identification number.