Study Investigates Lining and Coating Lead Service Lines

A new Water Research Foundation report finds that some lining and coating technologies can reduce or eliminate lead release

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The Water Research Foundation has released a new report that found certain lining and coating technologies are effective in reducing or eliminating the release of lead from lead service lines.

The report, Evaluation of Lead Service Line Lining and Coating Technologies, helps water utilities, engineering consultants, consumers, property owners, state and provincial regulators, and other stakeholders make informed decisions regarding lining and coating of both lead and copper service lines.

“This research shows that lining and coating technologies have the potential to be an important tool in the toolbox for utilities to employ to reduce and prevent lead release,” says Rob Renner, CEO of the Water Research Foundation.

The following aspects of linings and coatings were investigated:

  • Effectiveness in preventing lead release from lead service lines and reducing tap-water lead levels
  • Advantages and disadvantages for full versus partial lead service line replacement
  • Commercial availability, suitability for use in small-diameter pipes, and utilization of materials certified for use in contact with potable water
  • Potential, upon installation and after aging, to leach organic and inorganic chemicals of concern with respect to water quality
  • Long-term effectiveness and durability
  • Ability to control internal pipe corrosion, prevent metal release from both service lines and the scales inside them, and repair service line leaks
  • Costs to both utilities and property owners, especially relative to the cost of lead service line replacement
  • Engineering feasibility, commercial availability, certification, and property access issues

The study found that three currently available lining or coating technologies (PET lining, epoxy coating, and polyurea/polyurethane coating) can effectively reduce or eliminate release of lead from lead service lines, are expected to have a long service life, and can potentially result in significant cost savings and other benefits relative to lead service line replacement, depending on site-specific conditions.

Other possible benefits include fewer and shorter disruptions of vehicular and pedestrian traffic; reduced damage to landscaping, trees, sidewalks, and driveways; less potential for damage to other utility lines (gas, electric, phone, cable, sewers); and facilitating delay of lead service line replacements until they can be more efficiently and cost-effectively performed in concert with future main rehabilitation or replacement projects.

The project was jointly funded by the Water Research Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, contact Jonathan Cuppett, WRF research manager, at or 303/347-6122.

About the Water Research Foundation
The Water Research Foundation is the leading not-for-profit research cooperative that advances the science of water to protect public health and the environment. Governed by utilities, WRF plans, manages, and delivers scientifically sound research solutions on the most critical challenges facing the water community in the areas of drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and reuse. Over the last 50 years, WRF has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects valued at $500 million, and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, go to


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