Removing Galesburg’s lead water lines could cost ten million dollars

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GALESBURG, Illinois - Removing lead service lines could cost ten million dollars, for a city that can't afford it.  That's why Galesburg needs outside help.

Water issues hit close to home for Mary Houlihan. The Knox College student lives in an off campus apartment with a lead service line.

"I just get my drinking water from campus and kind of go about business as usual," Houlihan says.

Knox College recently tested its water, and each sample was well below federal action levels for lead. The campus will replace 11 older service lines during the summer.

"We felt it was best just to do the testing to assure everyone, ourselves and everyone, of the safety of the water," said Megan Scott of Knox College.

Recent testing by the Illinois EPA and city show the Galesburg plan is working. Just two of 30 samples topped the action levels for lead.

"The immediate need is for prevention and for us to get out there and spread the word on how parents can prevent lead poisoning," said Michele Gabriel from the Knox County Health Department.

Galesburg estimates that replacing lead service lines would cost 10 million dollars and last a decade.

Galesburg needs money for lead abatement in pipes and homes, and they're seeking help from legislators and federal officials.  Galesburg is not alone in facing this situation, but the city wants to be a model solution to guide other cities and towns.

The city is focusing now on testing and prevention, it's a good start for these students.

A focus on solutions that take time, money and patience.

Galesburg continues to offer free water testing and filters for homes that need them. Contact Galesburg City Hall to get started.

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