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Lead Service Replacement Project

Sources of Lead in Drinking Water

Marshfield Utilities is committed to delivering safe water to our customers. The water that we provide to homes and businesses is lead-free, but lead can get into the water as it moves through lead-containing household fixtures, plumbing, and water service lines (the pipe that brings water into the home from the main in the street).

The most common sources of lead in drinking water come from:

  1. The primary source of lead in drinking water is from water service lines that are made of lead.
  2. Another source is copper pipes connected with solder made of lead, which was common before 1987. Solder can be used anywhere in the house, from fixtures to service lines.
  3. Brass faucets and faucet parts, such as fittings and valves can also contain lead. Fixtures installed before 2014 are likely to contain some brass, even if they have a chrome finish.


Does your home have a lead service?  Click on the map below.



If you suspect your home has lead in the plumbing, there are a few immediate steps you can take to minimize exposure.

  1. Use a filter certified to remove lead to NSF Standard 53 for drinking and cooking. Replace the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making infant formula. Boiling the water does not remove lead and hot water often contains higher levels of lead than cold water.
  3. If water has not been used in the home for a few hours, such as first thing in the morning or when getting home from work, then run the kitchen or any bathroom faucet for five minutes (remember to capture the water and reuse it). You can also run the dishwasher, take a shower, or do a load of laundry to help flush water in your internal plumbing before drinking or cooking.
  4. Regularly clean your faucet’s screen (also known as an aerator).  How one does this will vary from faucet to faucet.  Please google search your faucet for the proper method to clean your faucet’s screen.
  5. Replace pre-2014 faucets with new “lead-free” options.


Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has been a part of human society for thousands of years. In the water industry, concerns about lead pipes have evolved over decades. Today, scientists and society are more aware than in the past of the dangers posed by the use of lead in paint, gasoline, and drinking water infrastructure.

Because water services are underground and were installed many years ago without good installation documentation, there were not good records to predict who had a lead service and who did not. Marshfield Utilities has been developing a comprehensive inventory of known and suspected lead service lines using a combination of property records, PSC Reports, home inspections, and using vacuum excavation methods to verify findings.

Marshfield Utilities has monitored lead levels in customers’ homes since the passing of the SDWA amendment adding lead to the monitoring list in 1991. The results of this and other regular, routine testing have been included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports you can find on our website at

In 2020, water quality sample results from homes in the Marshfield Utilities system with known lead service lines and plumbing exceeded the level the EPA requires for taking action. The action level is an indicator that additional steps may need to be taken to “optimize corrosion control treatment.” That means a utility may need to adjust its water treatment to minimize the risk of lead getting into drinking water from lead pipes and plumbing. Marshfield Utilities informed all customers on their bills, and began the largest customer communication and education program in the utility’s history, sharing information about the sources of lead in drinking water including bill inserts to all customers, direct letters to the customers who were a part of the testing, direct letters to schools, day cares, and other health agencies.

We have evolved our approach to lead over the years, including replacing lead service lines when we come across them during our own construction projects, main breaks, and services leaks and offering a lead service line reimbursement program through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Safe Drinking Water Loan Program with assistance from a local bank to help homeowners cover the cost of lead service replacement.

Keep in mind that having a lead service line does not necessarily mean you have elevated levels of lead in your drinking water. Over the years, Marshfield Utilities has lowered the pH of the water, raised the disinfection concentration level, and installed a strict unidirectional flushing program to lower the corrosivity of the water and limit the amount of lead in the drinking water.

For more information on other sources of lead and how to read and interpret your water quality test results, click on this link

Marshfield Utilities Water has been replacing lead service lines for the last few years as these lines are discovered during the course of our regular, routine maintenance work on the system. Lead service lines are also replaced as property owners choose to redevelop their properties or replace their old service lines.

We have approximately 2,400 lead service lines in the system. The cost for replacement for each service varies from a few hundred dollars if completed in conjunction with a City of Marshfield road improvement project, to about $5,000 when the utility has to cover street repair cost. We anticipate the cost of the project being approximately $7,500,000. Street repairs need to be done in the summer time to allow the pavement to cure properly which also allows for a limited number of replacements per year.

A replacement schedule is being developed for replacement of all lead service lines. It will take a number of years to complete all replacements. The schedule is considering a number of factors to complete the replacement as quickly and as efficiently as possible. It could take up to 15 years to complete the entire replacement due to resource availability and impact to customers.

Marshfield Utilities is currently working to update our online GIS maps to identify when your particular service is scheduled for replacement. Just click on your property and a box will pop up that identifies a date for proposed replacement. If the replacement schedule indicates “to be determined” that means the service is on our list for replacement, however is at least three years from being replaced.

Many laboratories can test your water to see if it contains lead.

Contact a Wisconsin Department of Health Services accredited laboratory such as

AgSource Laboratories at 715-898-1402


Northern Lake Service Inc. at 715-478-2777

Click on this link to find other Wisconsin Department of Health Certified Laboratories

Marshfield Utilities will pay for a water sample test for lead. If the test result is above 15 ppb, we will request a second sample and test be completed where a representative of Marshfield Utilities will collect the sample. If that second sample is also above 15 ppb and we believe the property has a lead service, Marshfield Utilities will place your lead service on a list for replacement in the next 12 months. If either sample is below 15 ppb, please see the question below on how to reduce your exposure to lead.  Please contact MU at the email address or phone number listed at the bottom of the page to learn more about having your water tested.

  • Let the water run before using it for drinking or cooking. If you have a lead service line, let the water run for 3-5 minutes. If you do not have a lead service line, let the water run for 30-60 seconds. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain.
  • Use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Hot water absorbs more lead from pipes than cold water.
  • Boiling water does not reduce lead levels and may actually increase them.
  • Treat your water if a test shows your water has high levels of lead after you let the water run. Click here to find types of Point of Use Devices for lead reduction:


Lead, a naturally occurring, silvery blue, soft and malleable metal, has been a part of human society for thousands of years.

The Romans used lead pipes to carry water to their cities. Powdered lead has been an ingredient in makeup since the time of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.

Lead service piping was an industry standard since the beginning of municipal utility systems until after the end of World War 2.

Today, scientists and society are more aware than in the past of the dangers posed by the use of lead in paint, gasoline, and drinking water infrastructure.

The material that once was commonplace in many manufactured goods has become the target of regulations aimed at reducing or eliminating its use.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission in September 1977 banned lead from the consumer paint market, a change that took effect in 1978. Amendments to the Clean Air Act in 1991 required lead be removed from gasoline by 1995.

In the water industry, concerns about lead pipes have evolved over decades. The Safe Drinking Water Act was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply. In 1991, EPA published a regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act to control lead and copper in drinking water. This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), the EPA requires public drinking water systems to test the tap water from homes within their distribution system that are likely to have high lead levels. These are usually homes with lead service lines or lead solder. The EPA rule requires that nine out of 10, or 90 percent, of the sampled homes must have lead levels below the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).

Homeowners who participate in this study collect a sample in accordance with EPA sample collection criteria and Marshfield Utilities sends that sample to their contracted state-certified laboratory for testing. Study samples are held to a tight protocol and once analyzed may not be invalidated.


How to Contact Us

You can contact us at lead@marshfieldutilities.org or at 715-898-2187