Brenden Moore, State Journal Register
See the full article here.
Members of the Springfield City Council are giving City Water, Light and Power the green light to borrow $1 million from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to help fund the utility’s effort to replace Springfield’s remaining lead service lines over the next 30 years.
Council members voted in Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting to place the ordinance on the consent agenda for next week’s City Council meeting, meaning it is all but assured of passage.
Basically, if awarded by the state, the funds would be used to assist low-income home owners in the replacement of the customer-owned portion of the service line along with contracting work to repair streets, sidewalks and landscaping impacted by construction.
While the city owns the portion of service lines between the water main and curb stop, property owners are responsible for the remaining portion leading to their homes. Estimated costs for replacing the lead pipes range from $2,000-3,000.
“What we’ve been doing over the years is the city pays for our portion, the homeowner pays for their portion,” said CWLP water division manager Ted Meckes. “So that will continue up until we get the money and then we will help pay for those who can’t afford it.”
Though considered a loan, it would come with 100 percent forgiveness on the principal, meaning the city would not have to pay it back. The utility hopes to get word from the Illinois EPA in the next few months on if Springfield will be awarded the funds.
Meckes estimated that about 10,000 of the city’s 53,000 service connections have lead pipes. The city switched from using lead to copper for service lines around 1930, meaning that nearly all remaining lead service lines are in the inner-city older neighborhoods.
The utility hopes to replace between 250 and 350 lead service lines per year, Meckes said.
Much of the work would be focused on the city’s east side and north end. Meckes said the utility planned to the work “neighborhood by neighborhood,” hoping to concentrate in areas with a larger number of lead service lines. But, he said nothing has been finalized.
Meckes said the expectation is that the law will eventually change to force cities to replace lead service lines, so the utility is getting out ahead of that. He said the utility has replaced several service lines over the years in conjunction with other construction projects.
Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso asked Meckes if there was any concern about lead in the city’s drinking water, wanting “to make it crystal clear that people we’re not living in Flint, Michigan.”
Meckes responded by saying that the utility does 50 samples every three years, and “came up with no detects on the lead service line this time around.”
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