Trenton Water Works is looking for more property owners to apply for its Lead Service Line Replacement Program. TWW announced this week that it has replaced more than 500 lead-service lines under the LSLRP since the construction phase of the capital program started in February despite having to limit activity due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The LSLRP is designed to help homeowners replace service lines made from dangerous lead that are on their private properties for a cost of $1,000, which can be paid in installments once the water utility starts invoicing next year.

TWW officials are working with state government and other government entities to make the program free and mandatory. A private property’s water-service line runs from the shutoff valve in the street, called the curb box, to the water meter in the home. It takes approximately eight hours to replace a typical lead service.

“We have two contractors, South State and Spinello Companies Inc., using a total of five crews to do lead-service replacements in Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing and Lawrence,” said , acting director of the city’s Department of Water and Sewer, which operates TWW.

The utility serves 63,000 customers in a five-municipality service area. “Although we’ve had to reduce our operations because of COVID-19, we have continued the removal of lead services from our water-distribution system,” said Smith

TWW is spending $24 million, sourced in part from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank), an independent state financing authority, for the first phase of the LSLRP, which will remove 4,300 lead services by June 2021.

TWW is planning to remove all lead services from its system over the next five years through its $405 million, six-year capital plan, which also involves the construction of a decentralized water-storage system, permanently retiring the 100-million-gallon Pennington Avenue Reservoir in Trenton.

The utility estimates some 37,000 lead services in its inventory, although that number is likely to be adjusted downward as more data from ongoing material survey teams becomes available. There are 17,463 in Trenton, 11,618 in Hamilton, 5,236 in Ewing and 2,383 in Lawrence. Hopewell Township has no lead services because its housing stock is newer than its neighbors.

Homeowners can still sign up online for the LSLRP at www.twwleadprogram.com. Questions concerning program details can be answered by calling TWW’s Lead Service Line Replacement Program hotline at (609) 989-3600.

“While our COVID-19 response temporarily suspended lead-service replacements for homeowners, our contractors will resume full operations in the next two-to-three weeks,” Smith said. “Contractors will then contact homeowners whose replacements were delayed to reschedule for a convenient time. Please be patient as we completely reactivate our lead-service work.”

Last month, the state DEP announced its intention to file a lawsuit against the City of Trenton after the Council failed to approve funding for a number of capital projects.

In a letter dated May 21, DEP commissioner Catherine McCabe took Trenton City Council to task, saying its May 7 vote to reject millions of dollars in bonds for crucial measures will prevent Trenton Water Works from providing safe drinking water to its customers.

Officials in Ewing, Lawrence and Hamilton said they supported the lawsuit.

“As I have said over the past year or so, TWW has made very good progress in improving its facility,” said Lawrence Township municipal manager Kevin Nerwinski. “The City of Trenton’s council members have caused this progress to go off the rails (in my humble opinion) for reasons that they still have not expressed publicly.

“We all deserve a consistently safe water supply from the utility we pay to provide that resource. We will continue to advocate until there comes a day where we all don’t have to think twice about the water coming into our homes.”