Get the lead out, President says

Part of President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan calls for the complete elimination of lead water pipes across the United States.

Fortunately, for Central Arkansas Water customers, the utility took steps years ago to get lead pipes out of the system in Pulaski County.

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The water utility serves nearly 500,000 people, mostly in Pulaski County, but they also have customers in Saline and Grant counties.

The utility was formed in 2001 when the city water departments of Little Rock and North Little Rock merged and Maumelle, which had been on well water, merged its water department in 2015.

The company is the main water utility for all of Pulaski County, but the city of Jacksonville, and has more than 2,700 miles of water main in service.

Of those, none have lead, the utility said.

“CAW has eliminated all of its lead service lines,” said spokeswoman Chelsea Boozer. “We are fortunate that both the North Little Rock and Little Rock utilities that merged to form Central Arkansas Water put a focus on doing so long before the [American Water Works Association] began setting regulations on lead pipes in response to the Flint, Michigan crisis, and CAW began a Lead Service Line Replacement Program in 2016.”

For the most part, lead pipes in homes went out of use in the 1950s and Maumelle didn’t exist then, so there’s no homes here that would have had lead pipes in the first place. Lead solders were banned as part of the federal Safe Water Drinking Act in 1986, so any home built after then would likely not have lead pipes or lead solders in the home’s plumbing system.

In a report for a trade publication, Sharon Sweeney, a Compliance Manager for the utility, wrote, “[We] embraced the opportunity to remove lead service lines and further reduce the potential risk of exposure to lead in drinking water” and “the utility invested over $1 million to replace more than 10,000 lead service lines.”