Federal money could help Quincy replace lead pipe service lines

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 11:03 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Quincy plans to be more aggressive with lead pipe replacement now that it has federal money on the way to help with that.

Quincy Director of Utilities and Engineering Jeffrey Conte said the pipes are not leeching lead and they are meeting regulations now, but as federal and state regulations become more strict, they will still have to make a change.

Conte said if your house was built before 1940 in Quincy, it is more likely you have lead pipes, and the city is working to get rid of the problem over the next 24 years per Illinois law.

“We have about 6,000 lead services in the city, and the cost to replace each one is about $6,000 to $7,000,” Conte said.

Adams County Health Department Infectious Disease Supervisor Jon Campos said taking in lead from your drinking water is a real concern.

“Lead poisoning, aside from slowing the development of the brain, we see some IQ shift with persons like this. There can be brain, hearing, cardiac and stomach problems as well,” Campos said.

Campos said there are things you can do to mitigate it.

“If you were filling a pot full of water to boil, using cold water is going to be fine and better for that,” he said.

Conte said money is coming from the Infrastructure Bill to help states cover that.

“We know there’s about $1.4 billion that’s going to be allocated to the state of Illinois, and not all of it will be for lead pipes. We’re not sure yet what the EPA, how they’re going to split that up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Conte said the city is trying to locate all 6,000 lead service lines in Quincy, find the workers to replace them, and get $42 million he said it would take to cover the cost for just the city.

“There are an estimated almost three-quarters of a million led services in Illinois. So the cost to remove all those lead service lines is about $5 billion. This is only $1.4 billion and it’s not all for lead service lines. So there’s a real concern about that,” Conte said.

Conte said it should be noted as well that the funding that is being offered is an up to 50 percent grant. The other 50 percent is a loan.

So, he said the city of Quincy and its customers are going to be paying a big portion of the cost of these replacements.

There is no word on when the money from the infrastructure bill will be allocated.

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