Close up of Chrome faucet and water pipeline

Denver Water will propose the removal of lead service pipes from homes across the metro area.

The Denver Post reports that the unusual action for a major city could cost about $500 million and take 15 years.

The utility estimates that 50,000 to 90,000 homes still have lead pipes connecting their homes to water mains.

Officials say lead has been linked to developmental disabilities and other long-term health consequences.

Regulators must approve the plan.

Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead says, "Cost is not an issue. Public health is the issue."

Officials say lead from corroded pipes can enter water going into homes, but Denver Water has for years adjusted its water chemistry to minimize the risk.

The utility's testing in 2012 detected lead exceeding federal limits in a few homes.

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