As recently as 2018 Chicago officials denied the nation’s third largest city has a widespread problem with brain-damaging lead in drinking water, even though testing kits distributed by the city revealed high levels of the toxic metal in every neighborhood. [Chicago Tribune]
City officials pressed on, replacing hundreds of miles of water mains and installing scores of water meters, despite evidence the work made it more likely Chicagoans would ingest lead during the simple act of drinking a glass of tap water.
Times have finally changed. Not only did Mayor Brandon Johnson promise during his campaign to replace lead pipes known as service lines, his administration followed up by securing a $336 million federal loan to help pay for swapping thousands of them with safer copper pipes.
Combined with a required city match of roughly the same amount, to be financed with general obligation bonds, an estimated 30,000 of the city’s 400,000 lead service lines will be replaced during the next three years.