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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane’s water system free from lead pipes, removal complete

FILE – A lead pipe is shown after being replaced by a copper water supply line to a home in Flint, Mich., Friday, July 20, 2018. The city of Spokane says it has successfully replaced all lead lines (Paul Sancya / AP)

The city of Spokane has finished removing all lead pipes in its water system.

The $3 million lead elimination program – which was launched two years ago – replaced more than 486 lead connections with new copper pipe.

Spokane had a long-standing policy to remove lead pipes during work on the water system, but officials opted in 2016 to speed up its replacement of lead pipes in the aftermath of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Flint’s water corroded lead pipes after it switched its source of water without adding proper chemicals, increasing lead in the water to unsafe levels.

Spokane’s lead lines were installed in the early- to mid-1940s during World War II, when other materials were scarce, the city said in a news release.

The city originally had more than 1,000 lead service lines, with most found in north Spokane’s Shadle area.

The city’s water system has routinely met all water quality standards for lead, but officials said they acted out of an abundance of caution. Water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer isn’t acidic like the water in Flint.

The city of Spokane has the third-largest water system in the state, supplying more than 75,000 homes and businesses.