Bartlett & West assists with lead service line inventory projects
Bartlett & West is helping communities across South Dakota, North Dakota and Missouri with Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR) compliance. With an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated 6 to 10 million lead service lines in cities and towns across the country, we are supporting various communities in their efforts to remove lead-related health risks that accompany lead pipes and help lead communities to a better—and healthier—tomorrow.
Bartlett & West was awarded the Lead Service Line Inventory (LSLI) project by the South Dakota Board of Water and Natural Resources in early 2023. Bartlett & West is leading the project, and the team includes Black & Veatch for technical and lead service line specific GIS expertise, Brosz Engineering for most of the field services and ClickRain + Lemonly for message and media development.
South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) was looking for a trusted partner to simplify the service line inventory tasks for utilities across the state, ensuring LCRR compliance by the October 2024 deadline. This project is divided into four phases as described below:
- Phase 1 - Public Engagement to develop a consistent, agreed-upon messaging campaign and delivery service. Public education materials were developed, stakeholders were offered multiple training opportunities in messaging and water customers are being notified by the water systems with a state-specific customer survey for the private service pipe and water systems are being trained and offered state-specific inventory spreadsheets or geodatabases based on their level of GIS capabilities. This phase of the project was completed in June 2023.
- Phase 2 - Initial Service Line Inventory Campaign includes finalizing the GIS database that will be used for electronic and manual data entry. There will be multiple classification layers for varied levels of access to the database depending on the class seeking access. Water customers and utilities will have a basic level of access, whereas State representatives will have more access. Live dashboards (an electronic tool in GIS to track, analyze and display data) summarize real-time status summaries of the inventory and customer survey for internal and public viewing. Field services include assisting water systems with less technology capabilities with public and private service pipe data entry, and answering questions related to the project. Expected Completion is the end of August 2023.
- Phase 3 - Statewide Data Compilation and Costs Estimates will quantify the remaining unknowns as well as the locations of known public and private lead service lines. Predictive modeling and other tools will be utilized to come to an agreement on the level of accuracy desired for the known and estimated data. Cost estimates, standard specifications and minimum thresholds for plumbers and small contractors will be developed as well as a plan for equitable service line replacement to take full advantage of grant dollars for disadvantaged and underserved areas utilizing the State's existing classification system. Expected completion for Phase 2 is the end of November 2023.
- Phase 4 - Final Inventories and Replacement defines areas for further discovery, and training and transfer of ownership will take place on the Esri's ArcGIS geodatabase and dashboard technology to DANR. Replacement projects planning and coordination will also begin during this phase. Expected Completion is mid-October 2024.
481 community water systems throughout South Dakota are expected to complete the inventory. Several communities have nearly complete records to develop their inventory and will upload their electronic information to the GIS database. A wide range of effort will be required to complete the inventory for the remaining water systems. Those with little to no inventory developed or having gaps in their data will be included in further analysis. Predictive modeling will be applied to the collected data to fill in gaps, and as a last resort, potholing or physically accessing the buried service line to verify the material type.
In North Dakota, the Bartlett & West team was selected via an RFP process into a pool of nine consulting firms that will assist water systems with their lead service line inventories. The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) will assign work orders to consulting firms as water systems apply to the state for assistance. As of early August, NDDEQ had received applications from more than 180 individual water systems for assistance. Bartlett & West’s Bismarck office anticipates receiving multiple work orders to review.
The State of Missouri has released two separate rounds of funding targeted at addressing the EPA’s requirement for water systems to inventory their lead service lines.
The first funding opportunity came through the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) in 2022, in which the State allotted $10 million targeted at completing these inventories. Bartlett & West assisted our clients with the submission of applications. As a result, Bartlett & West clients received a total of nearly $1.5 million of the total $10 million grant allotment.
The second opportunity came through a supplemental call for LSLI and replacement projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) with approximately $50 million available in the form of grants and low-interest loans. This funding program is being administered by the Department of Natural Resources’ Financial Assistance Center (FAC). The funding opportunity was targeted at water systems that were not funded in the original ARPA funding opportunity released in 2022.
Bartlett & West assisted several of clients that either were not awarded ARPA funding for these projects, did not submit for the original ARPA opportunity, or wanted additional funding to put towards replacements of service lines discovered to be lead or galvanized material. As a result, these clients were able to help secure an additional $5.6 million through this funding opportunity, many received 100 percent grant funding for their LSLI projects.
Bartlett & West’s approach to these projects consists of the following:
- Needs Analysis - Meeting with client staff to determine project goals, schedule and approach. This involves the discussion of data currently available, game planning for public outreach and discussion of alternate methods for reducing the number of unknown service line material.
- Records Review - The records review phase of the LSLI will come before any in-field verification is performed. The records review is the least invasive and many times the least costly per service line. Bartlett & West will request and review documentation that may include construction plans and specifications, building codes, City ordinances, maps, meter cards, County assessor records and other pertinent data. Some service line materials may be identified during this phase of the work, which will allow the in-field verification to focus on only the true “unknowns.” A GIS or AutoCAD based map of the service lines will be developed during the records review phase. If the City is interested in the GIS approach to collecting the data, the GIS will have a database to retain service line material information. At the end of the inventory field work, an excel file will be exported to allow the official service line spreadsheet to be completed and submitted. The customer survey will be the second step in the record review phase. An electronic survey or a hardcopy survey is provided to homeowners. Electronic survey responses can be submitted via smartphone. Paper surveys can be mailed or dropped off at the Client’s office.
- In-Field Verifications - After a review of pertinent records and collection of customer surveys, it is likely many service lines will not have a verified material type. The in-field verification step is more invasive and expensive per service line. That is why a thorough records review is essential prior to fieldwork. In-field verification may be performed by potholing (using a vacuum excavator or mini-excavator) or internal plumbing inspections. Potholing will yield the most conclusive results, especially on the City’s side of the meter, but the internal plumbing inspections may be more effective for the customer’s side. When potholing is utilized, the excavated holes will be filled with sand and topsoil and then seeded. If a service line is damaged, our subcontractor will turn the water off at the meter, over-excavate the line, repair the damage, backfill and clean up.
Ultimately, more than 30 Bartlett & West Missouri clients were awarded funding, and these projects will span across the entire State of Missouri. In total, this funding will provide more than $7 million in work.
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