Lead pipes along several Indianapolis streets will be replaced during extensive street reconstruction as part of a collaboration between the city of Indianapolis and Citizens Energy Group.
When crews from Indianapolis Department of Public Works open up the ground for major street projects, Citizens Energy Group will use the opportunity to replace customer-owned lead service lines with updated infrastructure.
It’s part of a larger effort from Citizens to replace lead pipes in Indianapolis that began in 2022. Lead service lines were common until the 1950s, which has left the utility provider with only estimates of how many remain.
Citizens estimates that it will eliminate approximately 55,000 to 75,000 customer-owned lead service lines over a multi-year period. It was not immediately known how much that project would cost.
Citizens Energy Group CEO Jeffrey Harrison said the work that began last year with 400 lead service line replacements will be accelerated in 2024, including through the collaboration with Indy DPW.
“With this approach, we hope to replace lead service lines more quickly to keep the roadway from being impacted more than once and to get this neighborhood back to business as usual as soon as as quickly as possible,” Harrison said.
He added that water in Citizens reservoirs, water treatment plants and distribution systems don’t contain lead and Citizens has no active water mains made of lead.
In children, low levels of lead exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We are taking a step in the right direction to ensure that clean and safe water is guaranteed for every household in our city, and they will not be a risk of contamination in the future,” City-County President Vop Osili said.
In the spring, Citizens will begin a “large, proactive” lead pipe replacement program in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood.
The work from Citizens will occur as Indianapolis converts Michigan and New York streets from one-way to two-way thoroughfares. The city also will use $25 million in federal funding to convert portions of eight other one-way streets into two-way streets.
Department of Public Works Director Brandon Herget said these projects will help improve street safety in tandem with IndyGo’s rapid transit lines, which slow, or “calm” traffic.
“Amid a pedestrian safety crisis, our city and DPW is working diligently to transform outdated, overbuilt infrastructure from the mid-20th century with amenities fitting the 21st century, making our city’s streets safer for all of our residents and lessening the opportunity for reckless, selfish driving on our neighborhood streets,” Herget said.