Removing lead from Minnesota's water would cost $4 billion, but save $8 billion

A report highlights just how much lead there is in Minnesota's water systems.
Publish date:

A study has revealed just how abundant the presence of lead is in Minnesota's water infrastructure, and the costs of removing it all.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota found that in order to take the two most "significant sources" of lead out of the water system would cost up to $4.12 billion over the next 20 years.

"The costs are associated with replacing lead service lines, which connect homes with water mains, and replacing in-home plumbing and fixtures that contain lead," the U of M and MDH announced on Thursday.

But in a case of speculating to accumulate, the report says that the economic benefit could be more than double the cost of removing said lead, at around $8.47 billion.

That's because taking out the lead, which can cause long-term health and behavioral problems, would "enhance brain development and lifetime productivity in people, resulting in increased earnings and taxes paid."

"For every dollar spent on addressing lead in drinking water, we would see at least two dollars in benefits,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm in a press release.

"As we see in many other areas of public health, preventing a health problem is more cost effective than waiting for a health problem to develop and then treating it.”

The report was compiled at the direction of the Minnesota Legislature, and found that the main cause of lead in drinking water is the metal leaching from pipes and plumbing.

The houses mostly affected will be those built before 1986, after which the lead limit in plumbing was reduced from 8 percent to 0.25 percent.

Follow Bring Me The News on LinkedIn

The report estimates that the cost to replace lead-exposed plumbing in a 1,500 square foot, 2-bedroom home would be between $2,000 and $6,000, costing up to $3.7 billion based on carrying out the work on 675,000 homes in Minnesota.

Lead removal from service lines meanwhile would cost between $2,500 and $8,000.

Among the recommendations the report makes is conducting a "statewide inventory" of lead service lines and removing them at a "measured pace."

It also calls for increasing awareness of the dangers of lead exposure, focusing particularly on formula-fed infants who are younger than 9 months old, as well as raising awareness among homeowners and renters, letting them know if they have a lead service line.

You can find the full report here.

Next Up


Alleged drunk driver crashes into Chisago Co. deputy's squad car

The deputy was taken to the hospital afterwards.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Karl-Anthony Towns has lost 7 family members to COVID-19

The Timberwolves forward "hasn't been in a good place" since his mother died last April.

Leah Ottman, aka LOTT

Acclaimed Minneapolis violinist and singer Leah Ottman dies at 33

She also performed as LOTT, the name of her solo project.

Target gift card

Holiday shopping? Target gift cards are discounted this weekend

You have to be a Target Circle member, but that's free to join.

vote, vote now

MN Supreme Court dismisses attempt to block election certification

Another legal defeat for Republicans challenging the election.

prison, Rush City cell block

Another Minnesota prison inmate dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The virus has killed at least six Minnesota inmates.

leech lake band of ojibwe sign

11,760 acres of land wrongly taken from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe will be returned

The Senate and now the House have passed a bill that effectively returns the land. It's now headed for the president's signature.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves release first half of 2020-21 regular season schedule

The second half of the schedule will be announced at a later date.


Got a water softener in your home? It could be harming MN lakes

Salt from water softeners are a major source of chloride found in Minnesota's waters.

Republican health plan would save billions, but 24 million more people wouldn't have insurance

The Trump administration doesn't agree with the Congressional Budget Office's report.

Minnesota hospitals study reveals insane variation in cost of surgeries

One procedure may cost up to 7 times as much as the same procedure on a different patient.

Allina Health steps in to save one Mayo Clinic location from closure

The Mayo recently announced it was moving out of Springfield.

The Mayo Clinic made more than $1 billion profit in 2019

It's the first time the Rochester health system passed the figure.

Tuberculosis outbreak sickens 8 at MSU-Mankato

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating.

Body of man pulled from Grindstone River in Hinckley

A man matching his description was reported missing a short time later.