The city of Humble is being tasked with removing all lead and copper pipes within its city limits in adherence with an unfunded mandate issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In December 2021, the EPA released new regulations related to lead and copper pipes. By October 2024, every city in the country will be required to inventory all service lines in the city. If any contain lead or copper, they will have to eventually be replaced.

During its July 13 meeting, Humble City Council approved a $92,000 contract with RJN Group to survey to city’s pipes to determine which ones will eventually need to be replaced.

“This is one of those fast-moving, unfunded mandates,” City Manager Jason Steube said during the meeting. “[The EPA] passed it, and then everyone realized, ‘Well, how are we going to make cities pay for this?’ It’s going to be very costly.”

Steube said the city is currently seeking a loan through the Texas Water Development Board that could offset some of the cost of both the survey and the eventual replacement of the pipes.

“The Texas Water Development Board is putting something together on this that is literally building the plane while it’s flying," Stuebe said. "But our hope is that, if we are approved, [50% of the loan will be forgiven for] whatever amount we receive."

City officials said they will have a better idea of how much it will cost to replace the pipes following the completion of the survey.