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Lead pipes no more: Billings city workers embark on massive pipe overhaul in downtown neighborhoods

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Posted at 6:04 PM, Jun 23, 2021

BILLINGS- This summer in Billings, work is continuing to replace roughly 320 water service valves that run from the street to homes along the downtown corridor, the college streets, and some areas in Pioneer Park.

The city of Billings Public Works Department is continuing its mission to meet an EPA standard of having no lead pipes in the city by 2024 and so far, it's about 65 percent to the goal.

“Yeah, it's a potential health and safety thing that we want to get stay on top of,” said city engineer Mac Fogelsong.

The heavy machinery is working right now on Lewis Avenue, then up next, according to officials, is Clark Avenue from Division Street to Seventh Street West.

“We have about 320 of those services left to do this particular project, and it’s going to remove about 145 of those,” said Fogelson.

He says about another 90 will be in the Pioneer Park area, where there’s also summer work being done on water mains and water service valves that are old and contain lead susceptible to breaking.

“So historically, lead pipes have been known to, you know, introduce contaminants into the water,” he said. “We haven't necessarily seen that. But this is a precautionary measure that we take to eliminate that possibility.”

Work will continue most of the summer.

“We hope to be done with the lead services in that area by the middle of August,” he said.

But in the meantime, residents can expect some delays or interruptions on their streets.

“We try to keep the homeowner access open. We have to allow for emergency vehicles, but there's going to be some disruption with parking because we have to store materials and gravel,” said Fogelsong.

And after the work is done Fogelsong says, homeowners will have some work to do of their own.

“So, after we replaced the lead service, we have the homeowner’s flush water through the system and then we have them take a water sample to make sure that the water is clean once we're done.”

The lead valve serve works spans along with Lewis from Division to 8th Street, Clark from Division to 7th Street, the College Streets (Yale, Princeton, and Harvard) from Wisconsin to 13th Street West, North 15th and 16th Street north of 6th Avenue, Avenue B from 1st Street to 3rd Street West, and a portion of Burlington at 7th Street West.