Search for lead pipes in Medford to be costly

Medford, Ore. —  Medford Water Commission crews will begin canvassing meter boxes in older Medford neighborhoods next week in search of lead pigtail pipes. You heard it here first, when NBC5 News launched an investigation after learning a lead pigtail pipe was discovered but not made public until we started asking questions. It will likely take several months to check the 4,000 service lines that pre-date 1946, and NBC5 News is learning tonight just how much the investigation and repairs could cost.

“We don’t know how many we’re talking,” Public Information Coordinator Sara Bristol says, “we’re hoping it’s just in the dozens rather than the hundreds.”

12 employees are responsible for all the new construction and repairs within the Medford Water Commission. And beginning monday, their workload is going to grow.

“Looking into the meter boxes, and if we do identify any galvanized pipe we’ll start looking at the next step which would be to dig a hole in the street- we call it potholing- and we can actually see down to see if their is lead connected to the water main,” Bristol says.

Public Information Coordinator Sara Bristol says the overall cost will vary.

“They’re estimating it costs a thousand dollars just to dig a hole where we’re able to see if there is lead, and if there is a pigtail that needs to be removed it will be about 5 to 6 thousand.”

That, coupled with the free water testing they’ll offer to any affected homeowner, and early estimates are mounting.

“Tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get them removed.”

At this point we don’t know whether affected homes have lead leaching into the water, so flushing your pipes in the morning is encouraged and good practice for all homeowners. As soon as next week, homes will receive flyers if galvanized pipe is found in their meter box while the commission investigates further.


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