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By Carmen Ensinger
Members of the Carrollton City Council met with their city engineer, Jaime Headon, on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to discuss the city’s approach to compliance with the State’s Lead Service Line Replacement Act.
The purpose of this Act is to: (1) require the owners and operators of community water supplies to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive water service line material inventory and a comprehensive lead service line replacement plan.
They are also required to provide notice to occupants of potentially affected buildings before any construction or repair work on water mains or lead service lines, and request access to potentially affected buildings before replacing lead service lines.
According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018 Service Line Material Inventory, the State of Illinois is estimated to have over 680,000 service lines still in operation.
“According to this Act, Carrollton must develop and submit an initial inventory of all lead surface lines still in operation within the city by April 15,” Headon said. “The rule, as written, is severely complicated. Unfortunately, Rosie, Rick and the rest of the staff have to deal with it and you have to have the inventory by this date.”
A community water supply reporting 1,200 or fewer lead service lines in its final inventory and replacement plan can replace these lines at an annual rate of no less than seven percent per year over a period of 15 years.
Public Works Director Steve Rosentreter estimates that the city has between 200 to 400 lead service lines still in the city.
The Act covers not only lines from the street to the meters but from the meters into the house as well. But homeowners need not worry, the cost of replacement of the lines, should they be lead, falls on the city, not the homeowner.
“The EPA is expecting cities to be responsible for replacing these lines from stem to stern,” Headon said. “Historically, you are only responsible for replacing lines to the meter. So, deciding how to attack the cost is one of the big policy decisions. You are required to go to the first valve at the homeowners or 18 inches inside.”
Headon said the EPA has provided some funding for replacement.
“The EPA has provided $100,000 in funding over the next five years that will be available to municipalities to apply for,” he said. “It will be 50 percent loan and 50 percent grant, depending on the need and what services you have to deal with. The quicker we can identify the problems we have the faster we can identify the scop of work and what the next 10 to 15 years are going to look like. This is a challenging rule for every community.”
Challenging is right. The cost to replace the lines could run anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000, depending on whether the replacement is just to the meter or all the way into the home.
“My concern is that we are going to be at the tail end of the millions of funding that has already been allotted,” Headon said. “Because your larger communities, like Peoria and Rockford are already taking advantage of it and have been for quite some time.”
As for ways to determine if there are lead lines still in use, Headon said the city can use service tap records, inventory cards, maps or any records they might have from local plumbers. Plumbers stopped using lead service lines in 1986 so any homes built after 1986 are free of the lead lines.