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🗳️ "Inside Illinois' Lead Legislation"


Photo by Christopher Alvarenga / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Jeremy Orr
Guest: Justin Williams | Manager | Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago
Category: 🗳️ Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:00] “[The Metropolitan Planning Council is] a 87 year old planning and infrastructure policy organization, working in Chicago and Illinois. And we work across a variety of infrastructure issues, including water infrastructure, transportation, land use and planning, housing, community development. And I was really excited to be working […] on the lead service line replacement legislation that was passed [in 2021] in Illinois.

[5:30] “Illinois has more […] known lead service lines than any other state in the country. […] Illinois has over 675,000 known lead service lines in the state and additionally up to a million service lines of an unknown material composition that could in fact be made of lead-based materials. Those communities with lead service lines are distributed really across the state, […] but we do also know that led service lines appear to be more concentrated in communities with high percentages of people of color living in them.”

[6:43] “Lead is a pretty well known and potent neurotoxin. […] I've actually even seen some recent research that suggests ancient Romans knew about lead poisoning, which is maybe no surprise given that they were using lead in their plumbing supplies at that point. […] So lead is a pretty nasty material and drinking water is one possible known exposure for lead. The thing is that lead doesn't leave the treatment plant, it doesn't usually come out of the water supply with a bunch of lead in it. Oftentimes, it's introduced through plumbing systems as it travels throughout the water infrastructure system. We can be exposed to lead in our drinking water through what's known as a lead service line. And a service line is a pipe that carries water to your home from the water main running underneath the street. […] There's some evidence that they can contribute up to 75% of lead in drinking water when it's present.

[9:41] “We've observed that a lot of the big lead in drinking water crises that have happened in the United States have happened in predominantly African American communities. […] And so we wanted to see whether we could confirm if something similar was happening in Illinois. […] And what we found is, when you look at the 50 communities with the most known lead service lines in Illinois, you see that they contain 95% of the state's known lead service lines and they also include a disproportionate percentage of the state's black and Latinx residents. […] Illinois’ black and Latinx populations are twice as likely as white Illinoisans to be living in one of these communities that contains nearly all of the state's known lead service lines. 65% of the state's black and Latinx populations are living in those communities. Meanwhile, only 30% of the state's white population are living in those same communities.”

[25:12] “The bill […] requires every utility to find and replace every lead service line in the state on some discrete time frames. Those time frames vary depending on how many lead service lines a community has in its inventory. So if your community has fewer than 10,000 lead service lines, I believe you have 17 years to replace all of them. If you have more than 100,000, so that's only one community in the state, which is the city of Chicago, you have 50 years to replace all your lead service lines. […] It also bans partial lead service line replacement, which is a dangerous practice that we were very happy to see no longer be legal in the state of Illinois as of January 1 of this year. […] Additionally, it creates a grant program that will prioritize the low income high need communities for lead service line replacement.”

[32:12] “We did some analysis of the economic benefits of lead service line replacement. And we found that replacing Illinois’ lead service lines would create up to $1.15 billion in economic activity every year and sustain up to 11,000 jobs per year.

[45:11] “Some of the biggest parts of what's next is, how do we make sure that every community, every household has the financial and technical resources they need to have their lead service line replaced? […] I think, on the one hand, that's making sure there's enough money. […] The bipartisan infrastructure bill had $15 billion dedicated led service line replacement funding, which, Illinois’ share of that is going to be significant, but it's not going to be enough to address the problem in Illinois. So, Illinois is slated to receive somewhere in the range of $516 million through the bipartisan infrastructure framework for lead service line replacement. The cost of replacing all of Illinois’ lead service lines is likely going to be somewhere north of $6 billion.

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 52 min | 🗓️ 01/18/2022
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