Galesburg will now get some major help from the federal government to tackle concerns of lead contamination.
It comes in the form of a $4 million loan.
Preliminary approval from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency came Wednesday.
Some of the privately-owned service lines that bring water from the city’s main line are contaminated.
The money would help the city finance the removal and replacement of about 2,000 pipes but that only takes care of 40 percent.
While the lead lines are privately owned, the city is responsible for ensuring that the water that comes out of the tap is lead free.
Wednesday morning, Illinois Representative Cheri Bustos told the floor of the house that a city in her district was getting some major help.
Galesburg could be getting a $4 million, forgivable federal loan to replace 2,000 lead service lines.
Bustos says while the loan a big step to solving the issue, there’s still a long way to go.
“We still have work to do to protect children from lead exposure but Galesburg is a great city and I’m proud that we’re taking this important step together,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos.
Galesburg City Manager Todd Thompson says that money will fix 40 percent of the problem.
Right now, there are more than 4,000 lead service lines in Galesburg. To fix it all would cost about $10 million.
Thompson says so far, they’ve been battling the problem in the short term.
“We’re provided free testing and free filters for the homes that exceed lead levels,” said Todd Thompson, Galesburg city manager.
Thompson wants the public to know that lead exposure could have come from sources other than water.
He says 80 percent of homes in Galesburg were built during the period where lead paint could have been used.
“We want to make sure that people are mindful of all the potential sources of lead and their environment of which water is only a small part of their potential exposure,” said Thompson.
Thompson says the city will conduct a corrosion study this summer to see how they can protect the lines from being contaminated again.
He says they will continue to apply for state grants to fix all of the lines in the city.
A multi-million dollar loan may help Galesburg reduce the possibility of lead in its water systems.
The city announced Wednesday that the State of Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has given preliminary approval for a $4 million federally funded forgivable loan to the City to finance the removal and replacement of approximately 2,000 privately owned lead service lines that connect properties to the Galesburg water system. These service lines, not the City’s water system itself, are the source of water‐borne lead contamination in Galesburg, as well as many cities and towns nationwide. The City expects final approval from the IEPA following its review of Galesburg’s full application in the coming weeks.
The financing will enable Galesburg to expand its range of programs that address the health risk associated with lead service lines to include widespread replacement of these privately‐owned facilities in addition to the use of anti‐corrosive additives in City water, providing residents with informational and educational programs, free water testing, and free water filters. Galesburg has also recently funded and initiated a comprehensive corrosion control study to determine the most effective means to control corrosion of lead water service lines and fixtures. The City has been replacing lead service lines on a limited basis for years, but will now be able to do so on a much larger scale and in a much shorter three-year timeframe. Replacing all 4,700 lead service lines in Galesburg is estimated to cost over $10 million. The City will continue to examine additional financial options for replacement of lead service lines for those not able to be covered by this funding.
Galesburg officials are developing plans to prioritize the replacement of lead service lines based on several factors, including properties that have shown higher than normal lead levels in water tests, properties where citizens with higher than normal blood lead levels reside, properties where citizens with significant financial needs reside, and possibly others. Future announcements will provide citizens with notice of the IEPA’s final funding and further details about how the service line replacement program will be implemented. In the meantime, citizens are encouraged to participate in Galesburg’s existing free programs that can verify the type of supply line a property has, test water for the presence of lead, and provide a water filter for buildings that water tests indicate have lead levels that do not meet EPA standards.
“This funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will assist our ongoing efforts to eradicate lead from entering any property in our city through its water service line,” said John Pritchard, Mayor of Galesburg, Illinois. “Water contamination coming from lead service lines is a widespread problem in our state that contributes to the public health risk of lead poisoning, along with other sources such as decomposing lead paint. We need to continue to be vigilant in our efforts to shield citizens from lead in all of its forms. I would like to personally recognize Representative Cheri Bustos for her assistance to Galesburg in this matter and commend her broad advocacy for confronting the challenge of lead contamination at the local, state, and national level.”