WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Galesburg Leaders Address Lead Response

Apr 21, 2016

Galesburg's mayor believes city leaders have done what has been asked of them regarding lead in the tap water supply.

John Pritchard addressed the issue after Monday night's city council meeting.  He said he was satisfied with the city’s efforts to lower lead levels. He said those efforts includes educating members of the public about what they can do to reduce lead levels.  In addition, the city puts chemicals in its water to reduce corrosion in pipes.

A recent Associated Press report said seven of 40 tap water samples taken in Galesburg last fall were higher than what the federal government allows for safe usage. The report also stated that since 1992, federal standards for lead were exceeded in 22 of 30 testing periods.

Pritchard said lead in tap water was old news in Galesburg, despite the growing national attention.

“We’ve dealt with this for 23 years now about, and most people have been educated and understand,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard said his office received a “light response” from citizens after the AP report came out this month.

Aldermen will meet next week to discuss the issue.  Representatives from the EPA and the Knox County Health Department are expected to attend.

Pritchard said the could discuss the idea of borrowing $15 million from the federal government to replace all the lead water lines to homes in the city. But he said that could be a costly solution.

“To repay it, we’re going to have to raise a tax. So for the two-thirds of people that don’t have lead service lines, they’re going to end up paying to fix the one-third that does. And there’s an issue of how fair is that,” Pritchard said.

City leaders have maintained that the city’s water supply is not tainted with lead.