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Grant money available for communities replacing lead service lines

As part of an effort to remove all lead water service lines in Illinois as required by law, communities must first determine how many lines need to be replaced.

According to Environmental Protection Agency officials, Illinois has the most lead service lines in the country, estimated at 700,000.

At the beginning of 2022, an Illinois law called the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act went into effect, mandating that owners of any water supply create an inventory of all lead service lines by 2023 and submit a preliminary plan by April 2024 to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to replace all of them.

The IEPA has announced grants for communities to assist with the inventory of lead service lines.

Lanina Clark, project manager of Infrastructure Financial Assistance Section with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, said the price tag to take an inventory of lead lines varies between each community.

“We have talked to some local engineering firms that we have a history with and they said it could range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000,” said Clark.

The IEPA also offers low-interest loans through its State Revolving Fund for as much as $4 million annually.

Despite having more lead service lines than any other state, Illinois received just $106 million of the $15 billion earmarked for lead removal in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill. A group of 50 members of Congress, including several from Illinois, sent a letter to U.S. EPA officials urging them to update the 2015 formula they use to allocate lead removal money.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square

During a recent Lead Line Removal and Water Equity hearing, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss said without federal dollars for the massive projects, local water bills will skyrocket.

“An undertaking that we expect to cost over $168 million dollars, and without additional outside funding, this would result in an increase of over 70% to their retail water rate,” said Biss.

The final replacement plan isn’t due in to the state until 2027, and municipalities will have another 20 years to remove the lead service lines.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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