Galesburg prepares to remove first round of lead service water lines

GALESBURG, Illinois -

Galesburg plans to replace more than 400 lead service water lines during 2017.  That's after testing identified the problem a year ago.

The city will take bids in coming days on the first phase of the project. Plumbers will have two different ways to deal with it. Each procedure should take 2 to 4 hours.

A $4 million forgivable loan from the Illinois EPA will replace the lines cost free to residents.

"Most citizens aren't in a situation where they could pay a couple thousand to three thousand or more for a service line to be replaced," said Wayne Carl, director of public works and planning, on Friday, April 7.

Since becoming aware of the situation, Galesburg has taken a variety of pro-active steps to correct it. Work is expected to start in June at pre-selected homes.

"They're getting rid of all the lead paint, so they might as well get rid of the lead pipes," said Ray Pickrel, Galesburg.

"You've got to get the lead out of water," added Bob Johnson, Galesburg.

Galesburg water continues to meet EPA standards. Two rounds of testing also reflected city improvements to raise the quality.

"There's a lot of things that you can do with a lead line," said City Manager Todd Thompson.  "But ultimately, the best approach, is to have it replaced."

Galesburg hopes to replace nearly 2,000 lines through 2018.  The city also hopes to secure nearly $3 million in federal funds for lead remediation in low-income homes.

It's also becoming a case study and role model for other Illinois cities.

"We're the first city in the state of Illinois to use drinking water funds for replacing lead service lines," Carl said.

Best of all, neighborhood relief is about to start.

"The sooner, the better," Pickrel concluded.