Angela McGhee never trusted the tap water flowing from the faucets of her more than century-old home. [SunTimes 12.4.2022]
Now, beginning in January, the city will be required under state law to replace lead service pipes every time there is a break or leak in a water line. That will force the city to replace what’s estimated will be at least 4,000 lead lines a year, perhaps 5,000.
“The problem is this city has the largest lead service line problem in the country, stated Erik Olson, senior strategic director of public health for the private Natural Resources Defense Council.
The 50-year-old Chatham resident gets her drinking water from store-bought bottles because she suspected her tap water might contain high levels of brain-damaging lead.
Last year, McGhee decided to look into a city of Chicago program that fully paid for replacement of lead service lines for low-income residents. A number of her friends and neighbors are suspicious of the program, McGhee said, but she went ahead. By August, her lead line was replaced with a copper pipe.
“If we don’t have our health, we have nothing else,” she said.
McGhee, who lives with her husband, is one of only 280 Chicago homeowners who have had a lead service line — the connecting pipe between a home and water main — replaced under city-sponsored programs the past two years.
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