A water utility that serves nearly half a million people in New Jersey and Delaware has announced plans to replace all service lines made of lead.

Middlesex Water Company announced Monday that it plans to replace all lead and galvanized steel service lines with copper service lines by 2031. The work will occur at "no direct cost to the taxpayer," the utility said.

The utility said it will be working on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis over the next 10 years in order to replace the lines.

Gov. Phil Murphy in July signed legislation that requires all water utilities to take an inventory of all water service lines that are constructed of lead piping, and to ultimately replace them. Exposure to high levels of the element is considered a serious health risk, particularly to young children, unborn babies and pregnant women.

Middlesex Water said it has submitted an inventory map to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, but the company still needs additional info related to the composition of the service line segments that are owned by property owners.

Beyond taking inventory of the problem, MWC said it utilizes pH control and corrosion control at its water treatment plant to help minimize the amount of lead from household plumbing that could dissolve into the water.

"We also regularly sample for lead in compliance with state and federal regulations and have exceeded the action levels set by the Lead and Copper Rule established under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act," said Middlesex Water President and CEO Dennis Doll. "The lead service line replacement program will help to further ensure public health and quality of life."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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