CHICAGO – Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth will hear testimony today from City of Chicago and State of Illinois officials tasked with removing lead service lines that deliver water to homes of State. Illinois will receive more than $100 million from the new federal infrastructure law that allocated $15 billion to remove lead utility lines nationwide. Illinois has more lead utility lines than any other state in the nation, with approximately 730,000 to 1.4 million lead utility lines in the ground. There is no safe level of exposure to lead.
“Illinois has more lead pipes than any other state in the country, but has been slow to make significant progress in ridding the state of this toxic scourge. Now is the time for the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago to remove all barriers and fairly, quickly and efficiently invest infrastructure dollars to address the issue,” said Angela Guyadeen, director of the Safe Water Initiative at the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “Lead inflicts irreversible damage to the health of children. As a mother of two young children, drinking from a lead pipe is like drinking from a lead straw, which is unacceptable. Illinois has the opportunity to lead the country in removing all lead pipes from the ground – let’s make it happen.
Under the new federal infrastructure law, Illinois will receive $106.7 million this fiscal year to remove its lead pipes and an additional $67.7 million in infrastructure funding that it can spend to one of its drinking water priorities, in particular to eliminate lead service pipes. Substantial additional funding will come each of the following four years. The state also received $8.1 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 and 2022 that can be spent on water infrastructure, including replacement of lead service lines, although the state has spent much of that funding on other things.
The Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced guidelines for the distribution of $50 billion in clean water infrastructure funding, the largest investment in drinking water and sanitation systems in the history of the United States. Recognizing that disadvantaged communities are disproportionately exposed to unsafe and polluted water, EPA will prioritize equitable access for these communities through grants and forgivable loans.
Last fall, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed a bill that requires all water utilities to begin the process of replacing all lead service lines in the state. Illinois, along with Michigan and New Jersey, is one of only three US states to mandate complete lead service line replacement. Replacing unsafe lead service lines has a direct impact on protecting the health and well-being of all Illinois, especially the most vulnerable Black and Latinx communities.
- Principles for Lead Service Line Replacement – a best practice guide developed in partnership with community groups and environmental justice organizations based on collective experiences of lead service line replacement in their communities.
The NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international non-profit environmental organization with over 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. The NRDC has offices in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.