Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City secures $39 million to replace lead service lines, utilizing federal partnership to support public health and efficient water management

March 25, 2024

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Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLCDPU) has been approved for a $39 million loan for lead service line inventory and replacement throughout the City service area’s drinking water system.

Mayor Mendenhall was joined by Second Gentleman of the United States Doug Emhoff; Tom Perez, Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Biden and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson at the City Creek Water Reclamation Facility for the announcement on World Water Day.

“We know that access to clean water can be the difference between life and death,” said Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. “That’s why President Biden and Vice President Harris are investing more than $50 billion to expand access to clean drinking water through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Under the Biden-Barris Administration, we have made it our goal to replace every lead service line in the country over the next decade. This is a critical part of that effort.”

The 1.5% low-interest loan and the principal forgiveness of more than $19 million will reduce the program cost, generating large-scale savings for ratepayers while improving the city’s drinking water system. The funding will be used to develop a five-year planning and construction project to replace lead service lines. Estimates for lead service line (LSL) replacement range from 9,402 to 14,457 lines. 

“Proactive management of our water resources is critical for our families’ health, the economy, and our environment,” said Mayor Mendenhall. “Because of federal investment and partnership, Salt Lake City will be a more effective steward and provider of safe, clean drinking water—one of our most foundational human needs.”

Because there is no safe level of exposure to lead, public and private LSLs, as well as aging water mains, will be removed and replaced with new copper services.

The loan originates from the federal contribution to the State Revolving Fund (SRF), administered by the Drinking Water Board within the Utah Division of Drinking Water. SLCDPU is the first water utility in Utah to receive funding via the federal SRF for a lead service line program, which will create a model for the rest of the state.

“Protecting Salt Lake City’s drinking water is of the utmost importance,” said Laura Briefer, Director of Salt Lake City Public Utilities. “This investment is a critical step toward removing lead and caring for the health and safety of our community.”

Additional federal investment was highlighted during the event, including Salt Lake City’s receipt of $36 million from the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program to rebuild and retrofit Salt Lake City’s City Creek Water Treatment Plant (CCWTP). Through President Biden’s proactive leadership to fund more resilient communities, this grant reduces costs covered by ratepayers by up to 70% and accelerates the timeline for this project.

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