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March/April 2018 Issue

Also in this issue: Seventh Circuit Rules against City in Zoning-Related Disability Discrimination Case     |     PSCW Considers Making Energy Innovation Grant Funds Available to Local Government

Update on Options for Providing Financial Assistance for Private Lead Service Line Replacement

On February 21, 2018, the Governor signed 2017 Wisconsin Act 137 into law, creating two new options for assisting private property owners with the replacement of their privately-owned lead service lines. Attorney Kobza wrote about the legislation in the January/​February issue of the Municipal Law Newsletter, available at board​manclark​.com. Since then, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (“PSCW”) has provided additional guidance, available on its website at psc​.wi​.gov, on how municipal utilities can apply for PSCW approval of utility customer-owned lead service line replacement programs.

Prior to applying, the PSCW recommends that utilities hold a pre-application web conference with PSCW and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) staff to review application requirements and sound industry practices for minimizing lead and copper in drinking water. The utility should prepare a power point-based presentation that describes the utility’s proposed program and additional items required by the PSCW Application Checklist.

The Checklist includes the following key items:

  1. Copies of the municipal ordinance permitting the utility to provide financial assistance and requiring owners to replace their customer-side lead service lines. 
  2. How the utility will ensure that either the utility-owned main or service line connected to the customer-owned service line does not contain lead or is replaced at the time the customer-owned service line is replaced. 
  3. How the utility will ensure that (i) grants do not exceed half of the total cost to the owner; (ii) loans provided to customers are not forgiven; and (iii) financial assistance as a percentage of cost or as a specific dollar amount is the same percentage or dollar amount, respectively, for each owner in a customer class. 
  4. Information about the utility’s proposed lead service line replacement program, including:
    1. A current inventory of utility-owned lead service lines as reported on Page W‑22 of the Utility’s most recent annual report, and a description of how that inventory was developed; 
    2. A current inventory of customer-owned lead service lines as reported on Page W‑29 of the utility’s most recent annual report, and a description of how the inventory was developed;

      Note: The DNR views Page W‑29 as a way to encourage utilities to improve their inventory of customer-side service lines, especially lead service lines. Utilities are waiting on further guidance from the PSC on how to develop an inventory of data that utilities have not historically tracked. 

    3. A map showing the location of lead service lines by Public Land Survey System quarter-quarter section or other PSC acceptable method; 
    4. A description of program components, phases, schedule, and anticipated duration; 
    5. A description of how the utility will prioritize service line replacements; 
    6. A year-by-year estimate of program costs; and 
    7. Assumptions used to develop estimates of program costs. 
  5. A proposed tariff that describes the program and is consistent with the municipality’s ordinance. 
  6. Information describing how the utility plans to communicate with its customers about the proposed program. 
  7. Identification and estimated amount of funding sources. 
  8. Identification of permits and approvals required by other state agencies or local governmental units, with an indication of whether the permits or approvals have been applied for or obtained. 
  9. Information to allow the PSC to document the environmental impacts of the program consistent with s. PSC 4.10, Wis. Admin. Code, and coordinate with the DNR pursuant to s. 30.025, Wis. Stats. 
  10. Estimated water rate impact. 

Utilities may be required to include additional information in their applications as identified in the pre-application conferences. 

— Jared Walker Smith

This newsletter is published and distributed for informational pur- poses only. It does not offer legal advice with respect to particular situations, and does not purport to be a complete treatment of the legal issues surrounding any topic. Because your situation may differ from those described in this Newsletter, you should not rely solely on this information in making legal decisions.

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