Providence Water launches interest free loan program to remove lead pipes

PROVIDENCE WATER is launching a program that to help customers to replace privately owned lead pipes. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE WATER
PROVIDENCE WATER is launching a program that to help customers to replace privately owned lead pipes. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE WATER

PROVIDENCE – Providence Water is providing interest-free loans through a quasi-state agency to help homeowners replace lead pipes that connect from the public utility to their homes.

The program, dubbed ‘Lead Free is the Way to Be,’ will provide three-year loans that will be repaid through additional charges on the utility bill.

The financing, a total of $1.2 million, is being provided by the R.I. Public Utilities Commission in partnership with the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.

About 25,000 customers of the public utility are estimated to have private lead lines. If homeowners replace their pipes, Providence Water will replace its public side.

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About 60 percent of the Rhode Island population receives its water through Providence Water, but many through community-based wholesale networks that receive the water directly at the source. The wholesale customers include the Kent County, Bristol County, Smithfield and Greenville water systems. Although these entities receive water from Providence Water, each has its own distribution system.

The distribution system starts in Scituate at the reservoir, and then connects through water mains into individual cities served by the utility. No detectable amount of lead has been found at the source or in the mains, but the lead can enter the water in older, lead pipes both under the roads and in individual homes and businesses.

The replacement of the privately-owned lead lines can cost some $3,000 on average.

The program launched on Monday also will provide free lead test kits to customers and materials to help them determine if they have lead service lines.

To sign up, visit www.provwater.com/loan.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.