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Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act Passes Legislature

State bill requires replacement of all lead service lines in Ilinois
Image courtesy Flickr user Mort Guffman

For the last few years, MPC has been working with our partners at the Illinois Environmental Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and others on a statewide lead service line replacement bill. We are ecstatic to report that the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act (HB3739 Rep. Robinson/Sen. Bush) passed out of the legislature on Monday, May 31 with bipartisan support. This is a major step for Illinois and a huge win for public health.

The bill requires every water utility to find and replace every lead service line in the state. With over 686,000 known lead lines, Illinois has more known lead pipes than any other state. Because of the scale of the problem in Illinois, it was crucial for this bill to and guidelines drawn from national best practices around lead service line replacement. MPC is proud to have worked closely with Representative Robinson and Senator Bush, as well as our hardworking partners and diverse stakeholders from labor, municipalities, childcare advocacy, and housing advocacy, to craft a bill that achieves that feasible vision. Read more about the details from Jeremy Orr at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The bill is an important step toward racial equity in water infrastructure. As demonstrated by a 2020 MPC analysis, Black and Latinx Illinoisans are twice as likely as white Illinoisans to live in communities containing nearly all of this toxic infrastructure. HB3739 requires all communities to replace these lead service lines. It also establishes diversity requirements for contracting, to ensure those Illinoisans who are most affected by lead have an opportunity to access careers in water infrastructure that will result from this bill.

This passage of this bill comes at an opportune time – it positions the state and its communities to seize federal funding opportunities. The State of Illinois and local governments will receive some $14 billion dollars in American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which is eligible explicitly for water infrastructure and lead service line replacement. $560 million, including $60 million specifically to eliminate lead service lines in childcare facilities, would kickstart Illinois’ replacement program. We urge the State of Illinois and local units of government to dedicate these funds to eliminating this toxic infrastructure.

And as the federal government continues its discussion of an infrastructure package, it’s critical that the proposed $45 billion for lead service line replacement remain intact. MPC urges that lead service line funding be distributed to states by share of lead service line burden, not by population. Additionally, the funding should be flexible, accessible, and available as grants.

This was an exciting session in the Illinois General Assembly, and the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act is an important part of that. We urge the legislature to send this to Governor Pritzker, and for the Governor to sign it.