Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces Chicago lead pipe replacement initiatives

Diane Pathieu Image
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Mayor Lightfoot announces programs to replace lead water lines
Mayor Lori LIghtfoot speaks at a press conference outlining programs to replace lead water lines in Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday initiatives to replace lead water lines in Chicago.

One initiative, the Equity Lead Service Line Replacement Program, is designed to help low-income residents. Those eligible are homeowners who have a household income of 80 percent of the median income and have consistent lead concentrations of 15 parts-per-billion in their water.

As part of the program, the city will fully cover the cost of the service line replacement from the water main into their home. Applications will be available later this year.

Hundreds of water pipes are set to be replaced in Chicago.

Mayor Lightfoot also announced another initiative for homeowners who want to act now and hire a contractor to replace their lead service line on their property.

As part of that initiative beginning in 2021, the city will waive standard permit fees, which could amount to a savings of $3,000, as well as connect the new service line to the water main and install a free water meter when the replacement is completed.

"Chicago's lead service lines are a legacy issue we need to start meaningfully confronting by moving in the right direction in a responsible way," said Mayor Lightfoot. "The new Lead Service Line Replacement Program stands as our equity-forward approach to providing residents the support they need, all while providing a foundation to continuously building on our commitment to addressing this important issue for the long term."

More information on the programs is available at

It's been a long-contentious battle among city leaders in the past to replace the piping, and one that can get costly.

RELATED: I-Team lead testing results prompt city action

The city plans to use federal grants and loans to finance the work and will try to minimize the financial impact to residents.

The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

Back in 2016, the ABC 7 I-Team tested a dozen drinking fountains across the city, and in Cook County, some came back with water that tested high for lead. The city stepped in immediately to fix the issue.

City officials say right now, the city water is below the EPA's lead action limit.

Mayor Lightfoot will be joined by Department of Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.