Lead is an understandable concern. We don’t eat lead paint chips, so why would we want lead in our water? The only problem is that aging water pipes do tend to leak out lead. It’s a cheap material that was used pretty extensively before we got smart and understood how dangerous it could be.
One solution to stop this lead problem is to coat aging pipes with zinc. It’s like spray-painting a pipe with metal. Some say it could extend the life of the pipe for up to 100 years for a fraction of the cost of a total replacement.
Is there potential in this idea? Sure there is. We just don’t really know if it will work. There’s only one large scale installation that we can really look at and it was installed in 2012.
Kansas City's pipes are treated at the factory with Zinc. I don't believe there is a viable way to coat pipes in service. They are flat out replacing the old pipes which is the best way to go. The rest of us just patch them up and hope for the best.