SPRINGFIELD – A bill has been introduced in the Illinois legislature that would mandate all water utilities to begin the process of replacing all the lead service lines in the state.
State Rep. Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago) has introduced the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, a bill creating a plan, funding, and timeline for all lead service lines to be identified and replaced. State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) will file a Senate companion version.
Jeremy Orr, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Illinois has between 800,000 to 1.4 million lead service lines delivering drinking water to residents, far more than any other state.
The bill would prevent a practice known as partial replacement, in which only the utility’s side of the lead line is replaced, while the portion of the line that runs under private property remains. Orr said the practice can disturb the lead material in the remaining pipe, actually increasing the risk of lead leaching into drinking water.
In addition, utilities would be required to prioritize replacement at facilities used by high-risk populations, such as preschools and daycares.
According to the Metropolitan Planning Council, replacing all lead lines in the state would lead to an investment of up to $14 billion.