Building Transparency and Added Value into Lead Service Line Discovery and Replacement

Jeffrey Weaver, Director of Digital Solutions

Hodge Patel, Business & Government Strategy Director

George Nikokiris, GIS Specialist

State and federal mandates requiring communities to complete a materials inventory of all water service lines are reaching the leaders of communities large and small across the country. With critical deadlines in Indiana to complete the work by October 2024 looming ahead, the clock is ticking.

For many of our client communities, these requirements are arduous, overwhelming initiatives with significant knowledge and resource challenges. Communities are unsure of where to begin, and when they do kick off their efforts, they’re faced with incomplete or erroneous analog water records, a workload superseding their staff capacity, and a lack of digital tools that would improve speed and ensure data accuracy before submitting their inventories to the State.

Funding through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) has enabled third-party consultants like Abonmarche to guide and manage water service line inventory efforts for municipalities. This funding is still available to hundreds of municipalities and public water systems in Indiana for 2024, with the amount available fluctuating depending on the community/water customer size. Communities are eligible for $15,000-55,0000 in non-competitive grant dollars, with no match required. Additionally, there is another $100,000-400,000 in competitive grant dollars available.

Our Digital Solutions team has been supporting many of our client communities as they work toward compliance with the state and federal mandates; however, we’re shooting higher than simply completing the bare minimum inventory requirement.

Our firm’s unique experience in lead service line identification and replacement has realized many additional benefits communities can take advantage of while completing their inventory requirements.

To see how a community can make their lead service line inventory an added value, multi-faceted investment for the future, learn more about our Lead Service Line Replacement work in Benton Harbor, Michigan at:

The state of Indiana has set aside $43M each year from 2022-2027 to assist 500 communities across Indiana with their Lead Service Line (LSL) inventories and Lead Service Line replacements. Each community in Indiana is required to submit their Lead Service Line inventories no later than October 16, 2024, and it must be submitted to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). To assist with this, the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) is offering grants of up to $55K for communities in Indiana that have at least 700 or more water service connections.

In 2023, Abonmarche helped 13 partner communities across Indiana jumpstart their water service line inventory efforts – first by securing grant funding and then putting the funds to work in developing an inventory.

Our firm utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach which allows our clients to benefit from the robust knowledge and expertise of our full team – from Digital Solutions to Engineering, Land Surveying, Planning, and more. In addition to the mandated materials inventory, we’re providing these communities with meticulously designed, added-value resources, including:

  • Historical Records Digitization. Safely archive documents in digital form​, prepare those documents for further data analysis​, and scan the documents into GIS data maps and field map applications​, allowing stakeholders to view and access these historical documents from an iPad any time, at any location, at any time.
  • Project Delivery Sites. As an ESRI business partner, we can offer clients an ESRI ArcGIS online platform used to host their community’s GIS data and provide their residents with a cloud-hosted, 24/7 accessible micro-website that keeps everyone up to date on project progress. These hub sites are easy-to-configure and can be be utilized as community engagement platforms that organize people, data, and tools through information-driven initiatives – offering engagement through surveys, education, and FAQs about the lead service line inventory initiative. Think of it as a simple website for public consumption. Each community’s hub site is designed to reflect its unique messaging, logo, and other branding elements.
  • Community Engagement. Our team develops comprehensive engagement plans and best practices that reach all residents. We work closely with each community to identify their engagement needs and guide the messaging to reflect their culture and connect with their residents. Engagement solutions include education on best practices, communication pieces such as door hangers, flyers, mailers, and inserts for utility bills, and careful consideration of area-specific qualities like the need for bilingual messaging across materials.
  • Data Conversion of Original Water GIS Data. Conversion of original water GIS data into LGIM (Local-Government-Information-Model) data standards improves the performance, storage, and overall design/structure of the data, making it easier to use.
  • GPS-ing Curb Stops. Using GPS equipment for field-collection of water assets, such as piping and curb stops. Abonmarche employees use cutting-edge GPS equipment to collect water asset data in the field to improve the accuracy and completeness of the inventory​. Photos of pipes and curb stops are stored with GIS data points accessible through an app.
  • Home Visits. If a community needs boots-on-the-ground support, our team can assist in making door-to-door home visits to conduct tests on service lines at residences that have yet to be inventoried.
  • LSLI Suite of GIS Apps. Our Digital Solutions team offers a full suite of GIS applications to help communities continue their inventory efforts into 2024​. Solutions include dashboards for project management​, desktop applications for administration functions, and field maps for contractors.
  • Hydro-excavating. Our firm is currently working with our clients to provide direct identification of service line material through hydro-excavating (aka potholing).  Through the hydro-excavating process, we develop a system analysis to identify the best locations to hydro-excavate that will provide the most information, then support the management and oversight of contractors performing the work.
Communities have the option to use a cloud-hosted, 24/7 accessible micro-website that keeps everyone – from contractors and residents to community leadership – up to date on project progress.

How Your Community Can Prepare for Lead Service Line Inventory & Replacement Requirements

Abonmarche has developed a Geographical Information System (GIS) based set of inventory identification and collection apps and tools that can integrate with your existing GIS. It also includes a customizable customer support site that exceeds State requirements for reporting to the public.  If our clients don’t have a GIS, Abonmarche can provide it, utilizing the available grant funding from the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) to get the inventory up and running. In the meantime, we recommend communities take the following proactive steps to prepare for their water service line materials inventory:

  1. Identify your existing lead service line (LSL) data. If you do not have an existing service line inventory, begin the process by gathering historical system records and information to develop an initial inventory. If you do have one, cross-check your current inventory against the new requirements and start updating your existing inventory. Take advantage of ongoing opportunities to collect data in the field, such as when performing meter replacements or main repairs and replacements.
  2. Identify supporting data for your LSL inventory. Supporting data such as water main age, building age, and meter information can be used to build your LSL inventory.  If you have this data available, make sure that it is up-to-date and is as accurate as possible.
  3. Initiate discussions to accomplish full LSL replacements. For many systems, achieving full LSL replacement can be a challenge. Begin to explore and identify replacement programs and funding options, including assistance programs for customers who are unable to pay to replace their portion of the service line. Discuss factors to prioritize replacements, such as targeting areas with vulnerable populations or disadvantaged customers.
  4. Prepare for rapid notification. Understand the various engagement timeframes and delivery methods. Begin developing the required notification materials and coordinating with the appropriate departments and adjacent organizations.

To learn more about how our team can help your community complete its water service line material inventory requirement on time – and ensure your effort becomes a valuable investment in the future – contact Hodge Patel, Business & Government Strategy Director at: or 574.304.2905.

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