Lead Service Line Replacement
What Are Lead Service Lines?
The Village of La Grange Park receives drinking water from Lake Michigan and pumps it to residents through the Village’s water distribution system. Here is an example of how your home’s water service line connects to the Village’s water mains:
To ensure safe drinking water in the United States, federal regulations have guided intervention and regulatory efforts to successfully reduce exposure to water contaminants. In particular, public health advocates and agencies have researched the negative impacts of lead exposure in drinking water. Both the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) and Lead and Copper Rule (1991) implemented restrictions to control lead in drinking water. Now, recent State of Illinois regulations require the Village to make an inventory of, and develop a replacement program for, lead water service lines owned by the Village and private property owners.
Although La Grange Park’s water meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead level requirements, some of the pipes that connect older homes to the Village’s water system are made from lead. Lead service lines are a health concern because they can be a source of lead in tap water. Lead can be harmful to humans when ingested or inhaled and has been shown to cause delays in physical and mental development. Lead enters drinking water primarily because of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in private water service lines and household plumbing.
Lead Service Line Replacement Program
The Village of La Grange Park is committed to maintaining its public services through safe practices and proper equipment. As part of this commitment, and in response to the State of Illinois’ Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, the Village is implementing its Lead Service Line Replacement Program to identify and replace lead service lines in our community.
The Program’s first step is identifying the total number of private lead service lines in the community. To do so, the Village needs your help.
In early May, the Village will mail a postcard to approximately 450 La Grange Park households in the Village’s first program study area. These homes are located on the following streets (highlighted on the below map in yellow):
- Park Road between Ogden Avenue to Harding Avenue
- Malden Avenue from Ogden/Brewster to Harding Avenue
- Dover Avenue from Ogden/Brewster to Harding Avenue
- Brainard Avenue from Brewster to Woodlawn Avenue
- Stone Avenue from Brewster to Woodlawn Avenue
- Waiola Avenue from Brewster to Woodlawn Avenue
- Spring Avenue from Brewster to Woodlawn Avenue
- Robinhood Lane from 26th Street to 31st Street
- Kings Court
- Castle Circle
Initial Program Survey Area
The postcard will include instructions to schedule an important 10-minute home inspection with the Village’s contractor, Hancock Engineering, to determine if these homes have lead service lines. In-home inspections will take place during the month of May and early June.
For the approximately 450 households that are asked to schedule an in-person inspection, it is important to know that inspectors will require access inside of your residence, as most water meters are in the interior of buildings. The Village and Hancock Engineering will work to make the at-home inspection process as convenient and safe as possible for residents. Inspectors will carry an official identification badge and wear a face mask upon resident request.
The survey will only take a few minutes and ask you to identify your home’s water service line material and location in three easy steps. All you will need to determine the material type is a refrigerator magnet, screwdriver, and coin. Pipes can be made of lead, galvanized steel, copper, ductile iron, or brass. Lead, galvanized steel, and copper are the most common material types. Click here for an instruction sheet from the City of Rockford that helps you determine your line’s material.
Image Credit: DC Water
If you will be unable to complete an online survey or need assistance, you will be able to request an appointment and a project team member will come to your home and complete an inspection.
To receive the most updated Lead Service Line Program information, register for the Village’s weekly E-Briefs newsletter here.
Following completion of the lead service line inventory, the Village will develop a comprehensive lead service line replacement program. This program will create a prioritized schedule to replace lead service lines and a funding strategy to pay for service line replacement. The Village intends to apply for significant state and/or federal funding to offset the cost of private lead service line replacement and will present information on next steps to the community during a public hearing in spring 2023.
The Village greatly appreciates your cooperation in making this project a success. For general project information, please contact Hancock Engineering Executive Vice President Mark Lucas via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 708-865-0300.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is lead? Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead can be found in air, soil, dust, food, and water.
- How can I be exposed to lead? The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in American youth. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, lead also can be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency states that lead pipes are more likely to be found in older homes built before Congress enacted lead-reduction requirements as part of Safe Drinking Water Act amendments in 1986. As a result, homes built in or after 1986 are far less likely to have lead pipes.
- Does La Grange Park’s water have lead in it? To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA has regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. As a result, the Village of La Grange Park regularly tests its water for lead, bacteria, and other regulated contaminants. The Village can report that no lead contaminant level violations were recorded during 2021.
- How do I know if I have lead in my water? First, test to see if your home has a lead service line by following these instructions. If you have lead pipes, or if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water), you may want to have your water tested. Testing is the only way to confirm if lead is present or absent because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in water. You can test your water using an at-home test kit or for more accurate results, ordering a test kit from a state-certified laboratory. To obtain a booklet of qualified laboratories, call the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Laboratories at 217-782-6455 or visit the IEPA website to view accredited laboratories.
- If I have a lead service line, how can I reduce my exposure to lead in my drinking water? The best step you can take is to have your home’s lead service lines replaced. However, you can take action to reduce the amount of lead in your drinking water and minimize your potential for exposure by following the below recommendations from the American Water Works Association:
- Run your water to flush out lead. If water hasn’t been used for several hours, run the water for three to five minutes to clear most of the lead from the water.
- Always use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Never cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Never use water from the hot water tap to make formula.
- Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
- Periodically remove and clean the faucet screen/aerator. While removed, run the water to eliminate debris.
Image Credit: American Water Works Association
- You may consider investing in a home water treatment device or alternative water source. When purchasing a water treatment device, make sure it is certified under NSF/ANSI 53 to remove lead.
- Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Brass faucets, fittings, and valves may leach lead into drinking water. Products sold after January 2014 must by law contain very low levels of lead.
- Have a licensed electrician check your wiring. Your home electrical system may be attached to your service line or elsewhere in your plumbing. If this connection is electrified, it can accelerate corrosion. Check with a licensed electrician to correct ground faults and evaluate your local electric code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. DO NOT attempt to change the wiring yourself because improper bonding or grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.
- Should I test my children for exposure to lead? Children at risk of exposure to lead should be tested. Your doctor or local health center can perform a simple blood test to determine your child’s blood-lead level.
- Will the Village replace my lead service line? Lead service lines on a resident’s private property are not part of the public water system and are the responsibility of the property owner. Lead service lines are owned and replaced at the expense of the property owner. The Village strongly encourages you to contact a licensed plumber for work on your service line. Prior to any plumbing work, please contact the Village’s Building Department at 708-354-0225 to see if you need a building permit.