Lead water pipes which serve over 1,200 homes in Kettering are to be removed at a cost of just over a million pounds.

They are being replaced with plastic pipes ahead of new European standards on the amount of lead allowed in drinking water.  

Work on phase two starts next month and will target 47 streets in the areas around Kingsley Avenue, St Peters Avenue, St Marys Road and London Road.  

Phase one was completed in October 2013, with work carried out in 21 streets mostly in the Kingsley Avenue area of the town.  

The entire project is expected to take until December 2014 to complete.  

The new European standards, which came into force last year, mean the limit on lead in drinking water has more than halved, from 25 to 10 parts per billion.  

Kettering is one of the first places to benefit from the replacement work because of the town’s high number of older properties, which are served by lead pipes.  

Toni Holtby, Water Quality Strategy Manager for Anglian Water, said: “Awareness of levels of lead in the environment has increased during recent years with the move to lead free petrol and paints.  

“Where lead is found in tap water, it usually comes from old lead pipe work connecting the property to the water main or in the internal plumbing. In Kettering we are now replacing large amounts of that old pipework as part of our continual programme of investment in improving water quality.  

She added: “With work on this scale there will inevitably be some disruption. We are working closely with Northamptonshire County Council to keep this to a minimum and there are currently no plans to close roads as part of this replacement work.  

“We will keep people informed throughout the work and there will be public drops in sessions in the near future.”  

The work only covers those pipes, known as communications pipes, which are owned by Anglian Water and which connect the water mains to people’s private service pipes.  

The service pipes, which run from the building to the property boundary with the street, are the responsibility of the property owner.  

Toni Holtby said: “It is likely that if our communications pipe is lead then your service pipes will be too.  

“The surest way to prevent lead getting into your drinking water is to replace all lead pipework; however you can take steps to reduce the amount of lead levels at your tap.”  

People can get more information here or by calling the lead advice line on 0845 070 3445.