- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Elkhart officials have decided to begin offering a new low-interest loan program to help low-income homeowners replace their lead-based water service lines.

The city hasn’t had any problems with lead in its drinking water, but 142 homes have lead lines leading from the water main near the street into the water meter indoors, The Elkhart Truth (https://bit.ly/1rWDr1F ) reported. That’s less than 1 percent of the city’s 20,000 service lines.

The loan program allows homeowners to make a down payment of $100, and then pay the remaining principal in monthly installments to Elkhart Utilities, plus interest.

Homeowners will have 36 months to pay back the loan if the project costs less than $2,000. They’ll have 60 months if it costs more than $2,000.

Monthly payments will be at least $25, and the interest rate will be set at the prime rate, plus 1 percent.

“This is all part of an effort by the city to see those lead-based service lines replaced,” said Laura Kolo, utility services manager. “It can get expensive for some homeowners to afford changing their line.”

As a protection for anyone with lead-based service lines, polyphosphates are added to Elkhart’s water supply to prevent lead components from leaching into drinking water. Homeowners are able to get their drinking water tested at their own expense if they suspect it has lead in it.

“The polyphosphates seem to do the trick, with 98 percent to 99 percent of testing for lead in Elkhart typically coming back negative for the substance,” said Lynn Brabec, Elkhart Utilities environmental compliance manager.

The last report detailing lead testing in 2013 showed the city’s lead levels to be significantly lower than the state and federal mandated action level limit for lead.


Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com

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