Lead Service Line Replacement Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is the Lead Service Line Replacement Program?

New York’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017 (Act) amended the Public Health Law to require the Department of Health (Department) to institute a Lead Service Line Replacement Program (LSLRP) to provide municipalities with grant funds to facilitate the replacement of lead water service lines.

Where in law can I find the Lead Service Line Replacement Program?

The LSLRP is located in section 1114 of the New York State Public Health Law.

How much money is available?

The LSLRP received a $20 million allocation from the 2017 New York State budget.

How will the money be distributed?

In 2011, Governor Cuomo established 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) to provide a local focus for state investment. The LSLRP will utilize these 10 REDC Region boundaries for the purpose of distributing funds. Each region is guaranteed a minimum allocation of $1 million, with the remaining funds distributed across the 10 REDC Regions based on the regional population as a percentage of the total state population, utilizing 2016 U.S. Census data.

How much money can my municipality receive?

Based on the legislative requirement to equitably distribute available funds, the LSLRP will offer funding of at least $500,000 to at least two municipalities per region (the exception being the NYC Region, which contains one municipality).

What is the anticipated cost to replace a lead service line?

Based on the length of the service line and other site‐specific variables, the replacement cost could be between $5,000 and $10,000 per lead service line.

How were municipalities chosen to participate in the LSLRP?

Municipal eligibility has been pre-determined by the Department based on criteria contained in the Act: “Within each region, the department shall give priority to municipalities that have a high percentage of elevated childhood blood lead levels, based on the most recent available data. In distributing the awards allocated for each region to such priority municipalities, the department shall also consider whether the community is low income and the number of lead service lines in need of replacement.”

To meet this directive, the following three data categories were chosen to evaluate and target potentially eligible municipalities: percentage of children with elevated blood lead levels (BLL), median household income (MHI), and the number of houses built before 1939 (<1939) - published reports indicate homes constructed before 1939 have a higher probability of containing lead service lines. Eligibility thresholds were chosen by the Department after a review of available data.  Municipalities that met all three of the eligibility thresholds were deemed eligible to potentially receive LSLRP funding.

Why was my municipality chosen to receive a LSLRP award offer?

Municipalities that met the eligibility thresholds were listed with other municipalities in their region, in order based on the data from the three eligibility categories (municipalities with a combination of high BLL, low MHI and large number of old houses placed higher on the regional list). LSLRP award offers were extended to the municipalities at the top of their regional list.

Does my municipality have to accept the award offer?

No. If your municipality chooses not to participate in the LSLRP, your award offer will be rescinded and offered to the next eligible municipality in your region.

What other funding sources are available if my municipality was not selected, or if additional funds are needed?

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA) are two New York State funding programs which may be able to provide financial assistance for the replacement of lead service lines.

Program Guidelines

What kind of service lines are covered under the LSLRP?

The LSLRP covers the full replacement of residential water service lines from the public water main to the residence.

Image of house with water lines

Can LSLRP grant funds be used to replace lead service lines for buildings other than residential structures?

Yes. However, priority should be given to replacing lead lines serving residential properties.

What costs are covered under the LSLRP?

Typical project costs such as engineering fees, legal fees, municipal administration fees, construction (materials, equipment, labor) and site/property restoration are included.

My municipality dug up portions of a road to replace lead “goosenecks.” Can LSLRP grant funds be used to refinish the entire road?

No. Only the portion of the road related to the “gooseneck” replacement will be eligible for reimbursement under the LSLRP.

My municipality doesn’t know where lead service lines are located. How can we find them?

The Department recommends looking at older homes (those constructed before 1940), older areas of the municipality, or areas near where lead service lines have been found in the past. Property owners can also provide information if they suspect their water service line contains lead.

How can a homeowner test if they have a lead service line?

The easiest way to test if a water service line might contain lead is via a “scratch test.” After locating where the water service line enters the building, typically in a basement or near a water meter, identify a test area on the pipe between the point where it enters the building and the inlet valve before the water meter. Using the flat edge of a screwdriver, gently scratch the outside of the pipe. If the scratched area is shiny and silver, it is likely a lead service line (a magnet will not stick to lead pipe). If the scratched area is copper in color, like a penny, the service line is copper (a magnet will not stick to copper pipe). If the scratched area remains a dull gray color, and a magnet sticks to the surface, the service line is galvanized steel.

How does my municipality choose which lead service lines to replace?

Each municipality will be responsible for contacting homeowners to confirm the presence of a lead service line (full or partial) and whether or not the homeowner is interested in having it replaced.

What requirements are there for choosing a service line to be replaced?

The only requirement is that some portion of the service line must contain lead. This includes the “gooseneck” connecting the municipal watermain to the service line, the service line from the curb stop to the building, or both.

Do the service lines chosen for replacement need to serve a residence with children?

No. Children do not need to live at the residence having the service line replaced.

Who performs the work to replace the lead service line?

Municipalities can utilize their own work force, hire external contractors or allow homeowners to hire their own contractor. Regardless of the method chosen, LSLRP and New York State contract requirements (M/WBE, wage rates, reporting, etc.) will need to be met.

What is the mechanism for receiving funding from the LSLRP? 

In order to receive the funding, the municipality will enter into a contract with the New York State Department of Health. The contract will be submitted and approved electronically through the New York State Grants Gateway, which also offers training webinars and other information for grantees.

What requirements does a contract with New York State contain? 

A copy of a sample Master Grant Contract can be found at the New York State Grants Gateway. All contract language found within the contract must be adhered to for this program. Included in the contract will be budget and workplan documents that will be developed in negotiations with Bureau of Water Supply Protection program staff.

Are MWBE requirements included in the Lead Service Line Replacement Program? If so, what are the goals?

The New York State certified MWBE participation goal for the LSLRP is 30%. If a municipality is unable to meet that goal, a waiver request process is available.

How long will my municipality have to spend the money?

The LSLRP contract length will be two years. If a municipality is unable to spend all of its grant award in that time, a contract extension request process is available.

What is the method for receiving payment for expenses under this contract? 

The municipality will submit quarterly vouchers to the program contact identified in the contract document.  In order to submit a voucher and receive the payment via check or electronic ACH payment, the municipality must be registered within the New York Statewide Financial System (SFS). Information regarding SFS can be found there or by emailing LSLRP@health.ny.gov.

What is the turnaround time for reimbursement?

The Department estimates that program eligible costs submitted by a municipality can be reimbursed within 30 to 60 days of receipt by the State.

How does the municipality report on work as it gets completed? 

Along with the voucher, the municipality will submit a quarterly progress report which will outline the work that has been completed to date.

Additional Information

Where can I find more information about lead?