Lead service line replacement

Waterloo Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen said this image was sent to a select group of property owners which the Waterloo Utilities has listed as having lead service lines. The utility company is looking to replace the public portion of the lead pipes but this cannot be accomplished if the private lines are not replaced at the same time. The city has received a second grant that will allow private residences to have up to 75% of the replacement costs reimbursed to help ease the financial burden.

WATERLOO — More Waterloo homeowners will be able to get financial assistance with replacing lead water service lines after the city was awarded a $237,041 grant from the Department of Natural Resources.

The city council passed a resolution at its Thursday meeting authorizing the lead service line replacement program for qualifying private property owners. The grant will pay up to 75% of the replacement costs with a maximum of $3,750. Homeowners would need to submit an application to be reimbursed for the costs. Based on the figures provided to the council, Alderman Tim Thomas said the grant would be able to fund lead service line replacements for 106 homes in 2021.

This is the second grant for this purpose the city has been provided from the DNR; the first round of funding was in 2017 in the amount of $300,000. It also stipulated that the money would fund up to 75% of the costs for replacing the lines. According to Clerk/Treasurer Mo Hansen, a total of 140 grants were awarded to individual property owners from August 2017 to April of 2020.

Hansen pointed out the first grant had a cap of $2,300 while the second grant provides an additional $1,450. He noted to the best of his recollection, none of the lead service line replacement projects had exceeded $3,900.

Residents will be able to apply for the grant money and the city is offering an interest-free loan program for homeowners who need a bit of financial assistance in funding the lead service line replacements. Individuals who do take out a loan through the city will be responsible for paying back 100% of the funds they borrow. As of Friday, 16 loans have been awarded, Hansen said.

“It is important to note, the 2021 DNR funding will allow us to go back and forgive the remaining loan balances for 15 of the 16 loans issued by the city in 2020,” he said.

The clerk/treasurer said the Waterloo Utilities reported knowing of 106 residential properties that have lead service lines as of its filing date. However, the total number of homes being served by the lead service lines is unknown since the utility staff has not been invited into all of the city’s homes that were built during the time lead service lines were commonly installed.

“We are hopeful that everybody will get on board and get (the replacements) done because it is a use it or lose it,” Mayor Jeni Quimby said.

New officer hired

The Waterloo Police Department will have a new face joining its ranks as the council approved hiring Jared Coffren to fill an open position in the department.

Thomas, who serves on the public safety committee, said Coffren graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a bachelor degree in sociology. The new hire recently completed the police academy, the alderman and former police chief, said.

“He was their number one candidate out of 17 based on their oral interviews,” Thomas said. “All of his references spoke highly of him.”

Coffren will begin a one-year probationary period with the department starting today contingent upon the completing a psychological, background, and medical screening.

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