Galesburg has released more details about its plan to replace privately-owned lead water service lines. City Engineer Wayne Carl said the city will start by replacing lines at 500 homes it deems the highest priority:
- Homes with children that have tested for high levels of lead in their blood
- Homes that have tested above what the EPA deems safe for lead levels in tap water
- Low-to-moderate income homes with children 6 and under
- Homes in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods
Carl said he expects the work to begin in May and be completed in six months. The work is being done at no cost to homeowners because of a $4 million dollar forgivable federal grant.
Carl has also revised the number of homes needing new lines. The original estimate was around 4,000, a figure derived from a city database of which homes have lead water service lines. He said it now appears only 3,000 lines will need to be replaced. He said the city found lines were already replaced at some properties while other homes either had no residents or were demolished.
Carl estimated the federal grant will cover about 70% of the lines that need replaced in Galesburg, but the exact number won't be known until the city has an idea of how much it will cost to replace each line.
"After this grant is administered and I'm hoping that everything goes smoothly, we're going to continue to look for additional funding for this," Carl said in response to a question about paying for replacing the other lines. "This is the first forgivable loan. But the city will look to continue to get additional funding."
The city will accept public comments through next week about the environmental impact of the project.
The lines are being replaced after the city failed EPA standards for safe lead levels in tap water in the fall of 2015.