JEFFERSON — Jefferson residents will again have access to a pool of federal and state loan/grant money in the coming years that will enable them to remediate lead piping that runs from the city’s water mains to their homes.According to Jefferson wastewater treatment plant Superintendent Todd Clark and Mayor Dale Oppermann, the city will be receiving up to $275,000 in what they call “principal forgiveness loans” to help the owners of approximately 75 homes remediate lead piping to their residences.“This is a program from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that is good for three years, and it operates on a first-come, first-served basis,” Clark said, adding the city is in its third round of receiving such financial assistance. “We are eligible for this assistance, as are hundreds of other cities in the state.”In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects likely are to occur.Jefferson City Administrator Tim Freitag said the city received two other allocations within the past five years.“I believe that this is federal money passed to the state and then to municipalities,” Freitag said. “I assume the ‘loan’ versus ‘grant’ language is because of this. Actually, the loan becomes a grant if the city does use the money for the specified purpose — meaning we have to loan/grant to individual property owners to replace their old lead laterals. The city, of course, is financially obligated to replace the old lead water main located in the street.”Clark said the remediation mainly is needed in the older neighborhoods on Jefferson’s east side, and the average length of pipe running from the city’s portion of the water main system to the homes is about 75 feet.According to the EPA, even low levels of lead in drinking water can cause serious health concerns in children, such as behavioral and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. In pregnant women, it can cause premature birth and a reduced growth of a fetus.Lead also is harmful to adults in general. It can cause cardiovascular effects such as increased blood pressure and incidences of hypertension. It also can lead to decreased kidney function and reproductive problems both in both men and women.Older sections of cities around the US have been in the process of remediating their lead piping for decades.The DNR’s financial assistance to city homeowners is structured in a way that has residents being billed for the remediation work to their pipes. They turn the bill over to the city, which pays it. The city then is reimbursed by the DNR for the cost of the work.Clark said homeowners may apply to the city for assistance, and if their pipes meet criteria for remediation, the project can move forward, with the city simultaneously fixing its water mains in the area that also might contain lead piping while the ground is opened up.This latest loan/grant covers the laterals from the city main leading to the house, but some homes also have lead in their pipes inside.Clark said the city has been looking for lead piping in homes as its workers change older water meters and as they verify service.Clark estimated that approximately 5 to 10% of the city’s homes still have lead piping leading from the city’s water system to their faucets.“We are shooting to have the city’s portion of the lead piping concerns taken care of by about 2030,” Clark said.Oppermann expressed his appreciation for the financial assistance to city residents.“We are very proud of this,” he said.