Galesburg breaks ground to replace lead water service lines

GALESBURG--- Construction to replace about 1,000 water lines in Galesburg is scheduled to begin in Wednesday, July 5.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos joined Galesburg's Mayor John Pritchard for a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, June 24 on the 700 block of South Chambers Street, one of the first areas to receive the new lines.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency awarded the city a forgivable loan of  $4 million through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund .

Lead spiked water has been a concern for the city after reports found a high level of lead  in the city's drinking water last year.

Since then the city has worked to reduce lead levels. Test confirm the city's water supply is safe to drink.  

The two part project will start by replacing 409 lead water service lines for individual homes at no charge to the homeowners, which will take the city until the end of the year to complete.

The city will then work to replace another 450 to 500 more lead water pipelines.

"Even the acceptable levels of lead are a potential threat to  the development of young children. It's a good thing to get rid of these lead service lines," says Mayor Pritchard.

The city's efforts to replace the old water lines through this federally funded project, will only take care of about a third of the problem.

Removing Galesburg's Lead water lines could cost ten million dollars.

The city will still have to find funding to replace around 2,000 more lead water pipelines still in place.

"We'll be back with the Illinois EPA to see if they have more funds available. We've kind of been told that there will be more funds available. Obviously they want us to get through this (project) first," says Mayor Pritchard.

There are 13,200 water lines in Galesburg, aside from the 3,000 lead in the process of replacement, most are made of either plastic or copper pipes.

The city plans to replace the old lead lines with new plastic material.