NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The City of New London is working on becoming the first municipality in the state to have lead-free water service lines that lead to homes.

“What is so awesome about this project is that it is for our children. It is for the future,” said Reonna Dyess, the New London City Council president and director of the Drop-In Learning Center in New London.

She has seen the effects of lead poisoning and praised the city’s effort to get the lead out.

“It causes stomach aches, headaches, long-term learning disability if you have chronic exposure over time,” Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani said.

The city wants to prevent those long-lasting effects of lead and has become the first in the state to start a program to remove lead service lines leading into more than 2,400 homes in New London.

“It’s good cause you know babies that drink the water, you don’t want them to get sick,” New London resident Holly Parkes said.

The city said some of those service lines are 100 years old.

“Roughly 100 years old, absolutely, yup,” said Anthony DiVirgilio, the contracts manager for Burns Construction, which will be performing the lead pipe replacement work.

City leaders said as much as 75% of the three-year project could be funded through state and federal funding, possibly through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which aims to help distressed communities.

The project is expected to cost $36 million.

“We wanted to make sure that we ordered it so that those that are the most vulnerable have their pipes removed first,” New London Public Utilities Director Joe Lanzafame said.

New London is receiving $5 million in federal funds for each of the three phases of this project.
In January, New London Mayor Michael E. Passero was invited to the White House, where Vice President Kamala Harris hosted an Accelerating Lead Pipe Replacement Summit.

“We know that the majority of children affected by lead are Black and Brown in low-income households,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

Barry Weiner, the chairman of the New London Water & Water Pollution Control Authority, read a letter she sent today praising the city’s efforts.

“Every community in our nation deserves clean water to drink,” Weiner said.

The pipe removal will begin in the spring once the ground thaws. At that time, residents can expect to see construction workers start their work.

New London wants to remind affected residents to fill out forms authorizing construction crews to complete the work in their homes.