Lawmakers and clean water advocates hail passage of lead service line replacement bill

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WMBD) — Lawmakers and clean water advocates are praising Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) for signing legislation they said will clean up the state’s lead service lines.

The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act (HB 3739) will require water utilities to replace all lead service lines in Illinois. It is expected to create 11,000 jobs.

Representatives from the Illinois Environmental Council and United Associations Plumbers Local 130 hailed the passage of the bill at a presser Monday afternoon.

“With this bill, Illinois is demonstrating a meaningful commitment to the kind of investment in clean drinking water we need to see to protect public health, to protect the 350,000 children that are at risk for lead, and to make sure that investment and that infrastructure comes with good jobs,” said Colleen Smith, deputy director of Illinois Environmental Council.

“This bill is going to remove the lead, these toxins from our drinking water, and make sure everyone in Illinois can be as safe and as healthy as possible,” said John D’Amico, director of political affairs of UA Plumbers Local 130.

Illinois is home to one out of every eight known lead service lines, according to the bill’s House sponsor, State Rep. Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago).

“This toxic infrastructure in communities is in every region of our state,” he said.

State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), the bill’s Senate sponsor, said it’s a life or death matter.

“Lead service lines are a health threat, that not only costs us billions of dollars, but poisons our children and undermines our residents’ confidence in their municipal government,” Bush said. “It affects all of us, and every single one of us, especially our children, deserve clean safe drinking water.”

Robinson said its also an environmental justice issue, as people of color in Illinois are twice as likely than whites to have lead service lines.

“Although this is a state-wide problem, we know that this toxic infrastructure disproportionately affects Illinois’ people of color… This clearly is environmental injustice. Everyone deserves to have clean drinking water,” he said.

Illinois American Water released a statement related to the bill’s passage.

“IL HB3739 recognizes the need for continuous investment in essential water infrastructure, specifically replacing lead water service lines. Illinois American Water has been replacing lead service lines for some time now. IL HB3739 does not change our operations, current approach to lead service line replacement and support of high-quality water service across the state… In the Peoria District, we are investing over $10 million in 2021 to upgrade the local water system… Work will also continue to include replacing lead service lines.”

The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

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