Lead pipe replacement will be costly, create 6,000 Illinois jobs: new report | Illinois

(The Center Square) – Illinois is committed to eliminating all lead-lined water pipes in the state within 15 or 20 years, beginning in 2027, an expensive and labor-intensive effort.

Both chambers of the state parliament were passed this spring. The law is on the governor’s desk for him to sign.

The nationwide effort will create 6,000 indirect or direct jobs in Illinois, according to a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, a group of national business leaders, and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters.

Todd LaFountain, director of the water division for City Water, Light and Power of Springfield (CWLP), said replacing tap water pipes is labor intensive.

“The utilities will have to replace these lines very soon,” he said. “It’s a specialty shop, typically plumbing … work … that type of construction. It would certainly create craft jobs. “

Springfield began replacing a certain number of lead service lines annually in 2020, starting with 150 homes. CWLP hired a large local contractor to help with the effort. Springfield secured $ 1 million in EPA funding to offset the landowner’s share of the line replacement and help with road repairs. CWLP will replace lead service lines in 300 additional households in 2021 and 300 more in 2022 – well before the Illinois start date of 2027.

Lead service lines are generally found in old neighborhoods where parkways and streets are well developed, LaFountain said.

“They talk about going out into the street, digging to the main line and moving the lines from there to the customer’s house. That wouldn’t be nearly as expensive in a corn field, but you talk about a major site restoration every time you replace service lines, ”said LaFountain.

At $ 10,000-20,000, homeowner ratings for lead service line exchanges are nearly prohibitive, LaFountain said.

“That is why the federal and state funds are so important,” he said. “If you have these available, these can be used to replace the homeowner’s portion.”

Lead water pipeline replacement plays a major role in the massive $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 10. The law provides $ 15 billion for lead water pipe rehabilitation across the country.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it would cost $ 8.5 billion in Chicago alone to remove the two-inch lead-water pipes that connect every home and two apartments to the city’s water network.

Homeowners are responsible for the cost of replacing the length of pipe that runs from their property line to their home. Excavating the city’s streets and sidewalks and repairing them when the pipes are replaced means the cost of any home in highly developed cities can range from $ 15,000 to $ 20,000. Federal funds could be used to subsidize the homeowner’s expenses.

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