New state law aims to keep local drinking water safe by offering loans for lead service line replacement

Sycamore among first 17 communities across Illinois to be awarded a loan from IEPA

The State of Illinois has established a plan with funding and a timeline for Illinois water utilities to identify and replace all lead service lines to eliminate toxic lead in drinking water, thanks to passage of a new state law supported by State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore. House Bill 3739 is already making an impact, as the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) recently announced that the City of Sycamore has been awarded a $4 million loan to replace lead service lines, making them the first community in the region to benefit from the program that went into effect on January 1.

“Though privately owned, lead lines are a critical infrastructure repair that need to be made to keep our communities safe,” Representative Keicher said. “Both state and federal bills have been passed to help address this need across Illinois.  Knowing that we had lead line and water quality issues in our community and within my district made it an easy issue to support with our infrastructure dollars.”

Illinois now joins Michigan and New Jersey as one of only three U.S. states mandating full lead service line replacement. Illinois has more lead pipes than any other state in the nation, with at least 686,000 connecting homes to water mains. Although Congress banned the installation of lead service lines in 1986, most lines installed before then were never removed. As the state with the most lead service lines in the country, the public health threat posed by outdated lead drinking water infrastructure in Illinois is greater than those faced by any other state.

All loans administered by the IEPA to date including Sycamore’s have been approved for 100% principal forgiveness. Other Illinois communities that have been approved for loans for lead line replacement to date include Assumption, Batavia, Barrington, Calumet City, Dixmoor, Elgin, Galesburg, Hazel Crest, Itasca, Joliet, Marshall, Nokomis, Plainfield, Robbins, Rockford and Seaton.

For questions or more information about the new law, known as the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, please call Representative Keicher’s office at (815) 748-3494.