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New EPA Lead and Copper rule has ND cities concerned

City of Bismarck

A number of North Dakota cities are expressing concerns about a new EPA rule concerning lead in drinking water.

Fourteen cities – and the North Dakota League of Cities – are weighing in with the EPA.

As it stands, the municipality is in charge of the water mains, and homeowners own the service lines from the water main into the house. The new EPA rules would give the municipality jurisdiction over those service lines.

"The new rule is really going into areas the utilities and water systems do not have control over," said Bismarck Public Works director of utility operations Michelle Klose.

Bismarck is one of the 14 cities submitting comments to the EPA.

"There are things the utility can do to lower the risks they're (EPA) is trying to address," Klose said. "But it has to be a shared responsibility, where we're working with the homeowners, and not trying to do it on our own."

Klose said of the approximately 22,000 accounts in Bismarck, about 900 have lead service lines. She said those are homes built before 1940.  She said Bismarck and other cities have taken steps to control corrosion. And she said homeowners can take their own steps to control any lead, such as putting filters on their faucets.

Klose said she’s also working with the state Department of Environmental Quality to find some grant funding for homeowners who want to replace those lead lines.

Klose said if homeowners have concerns, they can call her office.

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