The Drip from the Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board
Did you know, that as of January 2022, 667,275 lead service lines have been reported in Illinois and an additional 819,586 lines were still of unknown material out of a total of 3,852,509 service lines? The Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board estimates that it will cost between $5.5 and $8 billion dollars to complete the statewide replacement of all lead service lines. The Advisory Board, created and mandated by the Illinois Lead Service Line Replacement Act to identify recommendations for successful implementation, reiterated that there are currently no dedicated revenue sources to generate the funding needed to replace Illinois’ lead service lines.
The Advisory Board considered existing grants and loans available to communities as well as potential new sources such as:
- A new assessment per 1,000 gallons on water bills that could be re-distributed by the state to communities
- A fee added to every water main connection as either a monthly fee or annual charge
- A statewide bottled water tax collected by merchants at the point of sale
- Local water rate increases or water bill surcharge dedicated for lead service line replacements
The full Advisory Board report, available online, outlines different lead service line replacement scenarios, challenges, technical and administrative considerations, workforce capacity needs and how some communities are addressing lead line replacements. Key recommendations include additional research and stakeholder discussions around the feasibility of new state revenue sources as well as additional research and work around solutions to identified technical challenges.
What does this mean at the local level? Agencies responsible for community water supplies should understand these technical challenges and anticipate other issues they might encounter. They should also continue moving forward with inventorying service lines, be aware of the regulatory deadlines and requirements for submitting replacement plans and start coordination efforts. Gaining traction in these areas will help prepare communities for federal and state funding.