Elgin hopes to get funding to replace about 350 private lead service lines

  • Elgin hopes to get $4 million in funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to replace about 350 private lead service lines in 2021. This photo shows a lead pipe in Galesburg, Ill.

    Elgin hopes to get $4 million in funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to replace about 350 private lead service lines in 2021. This photo shows a lead pipe in Galesburg, Ill. AP Photo/Seth Perlman, 2016

 
 
Updated 8/14/2020 5:28 PM

Elgin hopes to get $4 million in funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to replace about 350 private lead service lines in 2021 and has awarded a $181,995 contract for the project to Engineering Enterprises Inc.

The city submitted its plan to the IEPA, which doesn't formally approve funding until the project has been bid, City Manager Rick Kozal told the city council this week. The contract was approved by the council to fund engineering services in order to solicit bids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The 350 lead service lines are in areas where capital projects are planned next year near the Dundee Avenue and Summit Street intersection project, and combined sewer separation work generally from Orange Street, west of Elm Street, to about Jewett/Gertrude streets, city spokeswoman Molly Gillespie said.

Elgin submitted a five-year plan to the IEPA that includes $4 million each year from 2021 to 2023 and $1 million each in 2024 and 2025. Overall, the state agency has $104 million available on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a memo to the council written by Elgin Water Director Eric Weiss.

The city prioritizes the work according to which service lines are most in need of repair. Councilman Corey Dixon said he would like future decisions, all other factors being equal, to give "first dibs" to low- to moderate-income households.

Councilman Toby Shaw expressed some doubts about how to implement that approach.

"I don't see any difficulty in doing that," Kozal said.

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There are about 11,000 lead water service lines in use at residential properties in Elgin, according to city data.

The city owns the portion from the water main to the shut-off valve, which it has been replacing gradually for years whenever it does water main and road construction projects nearby.

Property owners own the portion of service lines from the shut-off valve to the water meter. Last year, the city launched a program that asks property owners to voluntarily replace their lead service lines when city work takes place nearby.

Those who don't want that must sign a waiver and commit to drinking bottled or filtered water for two years. The city provides a free faucet-mounted water filter with replacement cartridges, and water testing to check for the presence of lead.

Those who choose to replace their pipes can use their own plumber, or a plumber preapproved by the city, in which case they can get a zero-interest loan for up to $4,800 from the city. The loan's repayment terms are more lenient for low-to-moderate income residents. So far, 50 people have applied for the loan program, Gillespie said.

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