The Town of Bennington is the sixth-largest municipality in the state of Vermont. Bennington has been actively managing the presence of lead pipe in its water system for decades. When funding opportunities opened up in 2017, town officials approached MSK to develop new solutions to keep its water system safe and compliant, with a focus on the identification and removal of lead service lines.
To effectively manage the cost and complexity of identifying, removing, and replacing lead service lines, the Town of Bennington needed to plan ahead. In particular, the Town needed to develop systematic approaches to three challenges—challenges that will face all water systems with lead service lines in the near future, following the release of the upcoming Revised Lead and Copper Rule:
- Identification of all lead service lines in the water system. The Town needed to organize and map its existing data about lead service lines in the community, and it needed to identify all other lead service lines in the water system, including those under private ownership. To do so, the Town of Bennington needed a way to reach property owners throughout the community.
- Removal and replacement of all lead service lines in the system. Once the scope of the problem was defined, the Town of Bennington needed a range of site-specific solutions at potentially thousands of locations in the downtown. And the Town of Bennington needed a cost-effective approach to construction that would work around tight property lines, protect historic front porches, anticipate variable soil conditions, and meet the many other challenges associated with construction at individual homes throughout the community.
- Securing funding. At each stage of the project, the Town of Bennington needed a collaborative partner to help identify and secure funding streams.
Since 2017, MSK has worked with the Town of Bennington to advance each stage of the lead service line removal and replacement.
Identification of all lead service lines in the water system
Inventory and mapping: Between 2017 and 2019, MSK carried out a comprehensive review of the Town of Bennington’s historical records; conducted community-wide outreach that resulted in more than 700 visits to residential properties for visual pipe inspection and water sampling to verify service line composition; and produced a digital asset map of the collected data.
Effective public outreach: MSK has developed methods for achieving highly effective public outreach campaigns. Our homeowner response rate currently exceeds 90%.
Reliable sampling methods: With input and support from the U.S. EPA, we have identified sampling methods that reliably signal the presence of lead in drinking water, and we have used these methods to characterize service lines when visual inspections are inconclusive.
Removal and replacement of all lead service lines in the system
Cost-effective implementation: In 2020, MSK helped the Town of Bennington secure a nationally significant award: $11 million in federal funds from the Vermont Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. The funds were provided to the Town to support the removal and replacement of lead service lines throughout the community, starting with a pilot project encompassing 140 service connections located along 10 streets. The fully reimbursable loan will cover the entire cost of construction at every participating residence. Construction will begin in 2021. To promote efficiency and cost savings for the Town of Bennington, MSK developed a decision matrix that permits our engineering team to quickly identify the optimal engineering solution at each location.
Identifying and securing funding
MSK has helped the Town of Bennington secure funding from the State of Vermont’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at each stage of the project.