Chicago Has More Lead Service Pipes Than Any Other US City, Illinois the Most of Any State

PBS is reporting some bad news for many Illinois homeowners

Illinois may have as much as a quarter of all lead service pipes in the country. While there is hope that this will be addressed in the recently passed infrastructure bill, it’s not a given.

Between 2015 and 2020 tap water measurements in dozens of Illinois homes showed hundreds and even thousands of parts per billion of lead. These extreme levels match what researchers found during the same period in Flint, Michigan.

Jeremy Orr, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago says

“The biggest reason is that essentially Chicago and other cities around Illinois required the use of lead service lines all the way until 1986, long after it was recognized that lead was poisonous and other cities had stopped using it. A decade after other cities had stopped using it Chicago and other cities in Illinois were not only using it but requiring the use of lead long after everybody else.”

“Right now in Chicago — and this is outside of the program they are launching — if a homeowner says they want to replace their lead service line the city will waive some of the permitting and other fees. They work with you to find a contractor. The city will cover what they consider to be the public side of the property. And that’s been one of the issues with the city, their estimated cost for a total lead service line replacement has been around $27,000 per line. At NRDC we’ve done this work all over the country. On average we’ve seen full lead service line replacement be $3,500 to $5,000.”

“A lot of other places around the country have waited until a crisis has hit when you look at Flint, Pittsburgh, etc. It’s required lawsuits and public health crises for them to do anything. So for a city like Chicago, the city with the most lead service lines to finally step up and say, OK we are going to voluntarily do it and create a program that allows us at least start to reach low-income residents who otherwise couldn’t pay for it and do it for free. That’s commendable, but the issue is that it is a small program. You can’t be taking it too seriously if you are telling me that you are going start out replacing 750 lines per year and you’ve got 400,000. We joke about it, but the calculation is that it would take 500 years to replace every single lead service line in the city. We’ve seen other major cities knock this out in three, four, five, 10 years.”

The article is mostly in Q & A format, and we strongly encourage you to read it to assess the risk you could have in your home.

Rocket Plumbing & Drain Cleaning does extensive pipe work… we do wholehouse repiping, and even have made a big impact with descaling and rehabbing cast iron pipes with our Picote milling tools.

We are well positioned to help you assess the best play for your home or business’ pipes. We work with local municipalities on programs that help homeowners with not only the Lead Pipes issue, but also with Sewer Drain programs that help replace faulty or misaligned sewer connections. Call Rocket Plumbing and we can help you navigate some of these programs and your possibilities to have your pipes made safe and dispensing great tasting water.

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