Mayor Byron W. Brown was joined today by State Senator Chris L. Jacobs, Buffalo Water Board Chair Oluwole “OJ” McFoy to officially launch the Buffalo “Replace Old Lead Lines” (ROLL) program.
This pilot program, funded through $567,000 from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s water line replacement initiative, as well as a $155,000 member item grant from Senator Jacobs, and a $100,000 Department of Environmental Conservation grant, will enable the City to replace residential water service lines when those lines experience a break or a leak.
“I announced this program earlier this year in my State of the City address as one of the strategies the City was employing to further our commitment to combatting lead exposure, while also making our communities healthier and stronger,” Mayor Brown said.
“While the City of Buffalo’s drinking water is among the cleanest in the nation, lead exposure can also come from lead water lines and lead solders. Replacement of the entire service will not only ensure the continued safety of the drinking water, but it will also enhance residential infrastructure and make it more resilient in the future.” Mayor Brown added.
Water service lines are the component of the water delivery infrastructure that carry drinking water from the City’s water main to the water meter of each residence. When these lines are compromised, either as a result of a break or a leak, they need to be replaced. Sometimes, when the lines are only repaired, lead particles are disturbed and can enter the water flowing into the home.
Beginning January 1, 2020, the City will require that all service lines made of lead, or having a lead component, will have to be replaced when they experience a break or leak. Residents should ensure that water service line replacement is part of their home or renters’ insurance, which can usually be purchased for a relatively small cost.
The Buffalo Water Board has also formed a partnership with HomeServe that will enable residents to purchase affordable water service line insurance if they are unable to do so through their home insurance provider.
“I am pleased to have secured $155,000 in state funds to help in this important work to reduce lead exposure to Buffalo’s children,” said State Senator Jacobs. “Mayor Brown and his administration should be commended for their Replace Old Lead Lines (ROLL) initiative which will make great strides in reducing exposure to lead contained in older infrastructure common in cities like Buffalo.”
The City’s Water Board takes several steps to protect the integrity of water service lines. The water is treated with a phosphate-based corrosion inhibitor. This process creates a protective layer inside service connections and plumbing systems, minimizing the potential for contaminants, including lead, to leach into the water. In addition, the City of Buffalo and Buffalo Water Board voluntarily adopted the strictest standard of 5 parts per billion, making the City’s drinking water one of the safest in the nation. (See Buffalo's independent lead test results here)
The pilot program will allow Buffalo Water to replace water service lines in approximately 180 homes. Since June, 30 homes have had their water lines replaced.
“With the ROLL announcement Buffalo Water is taking another step in furthering our mission to protect the health and well-being of the people we serve as well as protecting water infrastructure and the environment for future generations,” said Water Board Chair OJ McFoy.
“My Administration is working aggressively with our government and nonprofit partners to secure funding to make ROLL a financially sustainable program in the years to come. Full water line replacement is now a key component of our multi-faceted effort to battle the effects of lead in the City of Buffalo’s aging infrastructure,” Mayor Brown said.
To report a broken water line or leak, residents should call the Buffalo Water Board at 847-1065, Ext. 146. Free water tests can be requested by calling the City’s 311 hotline.