DENVER (CBS4) — You might have already seen the construction: 11 neighborhoods in Denver will have crews digging and working on their water pipes in 2021. Crews are replacing thousands of feet of lead pipes as part of a public health initiative to make the drinking water safe.

(credit: CBS)

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“It has taken years of research, but we have been successful through the pandemic,” says Denver water communication specialist Jose Salas.

He tells CBS4’s Britt Moreno that research teams track neighborhoods with a “heavy volume of children.” He says Denver Water targets neighborhoods with schools or daycares nearby — and that’s where they start working on replacing people’s pipes that connect to the main pipe underneath roadways.

(credit: CBS)

The pipes were originally used for homes built in 1951 or prior. Salas assures customers that the water is safe.

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“You can get lead from paint or toys, we have seen on the news, but we are removing lead service lines. The water we deliver to our customers is lead free and safe to drink. No concern there.”

Jose Salas, Denver Water (credit: CBS)

Salas says this work is part of a larger project in which Denver Water works to replace sections of pipe to reduce the number of main breaks in the aging system.

“We replace about 106,000 feet of pipe a year now and have a goal of increasing that to about 140,000 feet of pipe every year by 2024,” says Salas.

Denver water is replacing 64,000-84,000 customer-owned lead lines for the next 14 years to finish the massive project.

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Currently, Denver water is working along Federal Blvd as well as in over ten neighborhoods including Baker, Barnum, Barnum West, Congress Park, East Colfax, Elyria-Swansea, Globeville, Park Hill, Sunnyside, West Highland and Whittier.