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Buffalo community groups join new map project to find and replace lead water pipelines

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Posted at 6:11 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 18:11:45-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new lead pipeline map is launching in Buffalo to track outdated infrastructure homes to replace the city's entire network of lead pipes that's estimated to cost half a billion dollars.

A new partnership between local organizations and mapping experts believes most lead pipelines are in East Buffalo.

"The EPA and WHO have shown that we have a significant amount of lead in our waterways, and in Buffalo, we estimated about 40-thousand lines," says Executive Director Stephanie Simeon of Heart of the City Neighborhoods.

The Heart of the City Neighborhoods partners with other groups like Blue Conduit to map out and target those old pipelines.

"That is one of the places that we're expecting to find more lead but we don't yet have enough data to start making a determination on exactly how much that's in each neighborhood," says Eric Schwartz, co-founder of Blue Conduit.

Simeon says there will be a collaborative effort to combat this issue and replace the lead service lines.

"We're going to divide the East Side and do pop-up events and make people aware of lead possibly being in their home," she says.

Replacing all of the pipelines is going to take years, possibly decades. Still, Simeon hopes they can work with the Buffalo Sewer Authority to make those necessary infrastructure upgrades after locating the pipes.

But Eric Schwartz of Blue Conduit says the community will also play a vital role in this project.

"So to take existing records, water tests, even census information about housing conditions," Conduit says. "And lop size and partial size all of that together can generate our estimate on what homes have lead service lines."

The Buffalo Sewer Authority doesn't have a timeline for when the pipelines in the City of Buffalo will be replaced.

Those who may have lead pipelines should have a filter for water in the meantime.

Simeon says she hopes to have an action plan in place by August.