Elgin residents concerned about high levels of lead found in drinking water

North suburb holds informational meeting

John Garcia Image
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
North suburban residents concerned about contaminated drinking water
Elgin, Illinois residents are concerned about high levels of lead found in drinking water at older homes and other buildings.

ELGIN, Ill. (WLS) -- Elgin resident Bill Briska usually lets the water in his faucet run for several minutes before using it.

He believes that allows him to use the cleaner water that has not been sitting in lead pipes for a while.

Last year, the city tested the water and found his water to be above the acceptable level for lead.

"Lead is not good, that's for sure. And it is 2.5 times over the actionable limit. So yes, it is of concern," Briska said.

Briska's home is one of many in Elgin more than 100 years old, and most have lead water pipes as well. That's why the city is hosting this informational meeting on Tuesday, offering water filtration systems to homeowners with homes built before 1986.

In the meantime, Elgin has already begun a program to replace the lead pipes from the service lines in homes, which are not owned by the city, but are where the lead can get into a home's water supply.

"We don't have lead in our water," said Elgin Water Director Nora Bertram. "Lead comes from corrosion of plumbing materials, which is house-specific."

Experts say lead in the water can be dangerous, especially for young children and pregnant mothers.

"If you have kids at home it's a pretty huge problem," said Isidro Hurtado with NOAH systems.

The city replaces the older water lines for free, but it is a long process, one neighborhood at a time.

"I have tenants affected by this, so I came to het a pitcher for each one of them," said Elgin landlord Fil Martinez.

The city of Elgin said it is going to take 12 more years before they're finished with the project, replacing all the lead water pipes into homes at a total cost of $150 million.