Palatine launches program to reimburse residents for replacing lead water lines

The village of Palatine will reimburse residents for two-thirds of the cost of replacing their own lead pipes.

The village council unanimously approved Tuesday night the creation of new water service line replacement cost-sharing program, to be funded by $300,000 in grant money from the Northwest Water Commission. The village received a total $582,000 from the commission and allocated $282,000 to water system improvements and technology upgrades.

There about 310 residential lead water lines in Palatine, out of a total 19,000 or so.

The new cost-sharing program will reimburse residents who want to replace their own lead service lines, which run from the shut-off valve to the water meter. Typically, that costs an estimated $10,000.

The village owns the portion of service lines from the water main to the shut-off valve (also called b-box). Under the new program, the village will replace that portion at its own cost for residents who participate. The village usually replaces its own portion of lead service lines when there are water main projects scheduled.

Councilman Doug Myslinski called the new program a "good, proactive approach."

Councilman Brad Helms said residents could be encouraged to embark on projects together to save time and expenses.

Village Manager Reid Ottesen agreed. "We will encourage people to talk to their neighbors. If multiple people want to do it, there's economies (of scale)," he said.

Residents will have to submit proposals to the public works department, which would determine the eligible reimbursement. Residents would need to get a building permit, and all fees would be eligible for reimbursement.

To facilitate the process, the village will solicit prices from area contractors who are licensed and bonded, Ottesen said. "Typically, we don't get involved in selection contractors, but in this case at least pre-qualifying four or five (contractors) ... I think it would be a benefit to everybody."

If there is high demand and the initial $300,000 pot of money is exhausted, Ottesen said, the village would want to continue the program with water funds, he said.

"This is a good way to get going and get rid of some of those lead service lines," he said.

Many municipalities across Illinois have lead service lines that date back decades, before a federal ban on their installation in 1986. Public Works Director Matt Barry said Palatine's water goes through regular testing and has never exceeded levels for any contaminant.

The village's website will have specifics about the new program in the next three to four weeks. Residents who want to get on a list to receive information can call the village's action line at (847) 705-5200.

"Our staff will get their name, address and email address and will contact them as soon as the information is available," Ottesen said.

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