OLATHE, Kan. — Federal money could soon help remove lead pipes from homes in Olathe. 

On Tuesday, the Olathe City Council will consider a resolution to apply for a Public Water Supply Loan through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). 

The council will consider applying for up to $3,162,000 in funding to support lead and galvanized pipe replacement throughout the city. If the loan is approved, the money would be used to replace water service lines in areas of the city where the poverty rate exceeds 11.4%. 

Kansas received $164 million for lead service line replacement through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to be distributed through the State Revolving Fund (SRF). The SRF is a federal-state program that offers cities financial assistance for water infrastructure upgrades through low interest loans. 

Approximately 51% of the loan will be paid for using money from the city’s water and sewer fund. According to city documents, SRF will forgive 49% of the loan for eligible replacements. Homeowners will not be billed for water line replacement. 

Last December the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published updated Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) to protect communities from lead exposure. The City of Olathe is currently compliant with the original LCRR standards, but additional work is needed to meet the new federal requirements. 

To remain compliant the city must:

  • Submit an inventory of all water service lines to KDHE by Oct. 16, 2024. 
  • Send an annual letter to homeowners with service lines that contain lead or unknown materials
  • Sample water at 20% of schools and childcare facilities annually for the next five years. 
  • Create a lead service line replacement plan by October 2024. 

The City of Olathe has 9,994 water service lines and city crews have identified 83 lead and galvanized water service lines within the proposed project area so far. City crews will need to evaluate the remaining 9,111 water service lines before the Oct. 16, 2024, deadline to qualify for funding from the SRF. 

City spokesperson Cody Kennedy said city crews are replacing lead water service lines as they are identified and will have a more precise timeline for the project once the full inventory is complete. Kennedy said a majority of the lead pipe replacement work will likely occur in 2023 and 2024.

Under LCRR guidelines, the city is required to replace at least 3% of lead service lines annually. 

The city council will host a public hearing and vote on applying for the loan during the next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Residents can learn more about service line testing on the city website.