Many communities have a number of existing lead water service lines that run from the water main to residences and other buildings (“lead service lines”). Lead service lines can result in lead being introduced into the drinking water supply of buildings served by those lines. It is estimated that over 680,000 lead service lines are still in operation in Illinois.

The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act (the “Act”) became law in Illinois as Public Act 102-0613 on January 1, 2022. In the Act, which is codified at 415 ILCS 5/17.12, the Illinois General Assembly determined that for the health and safety of the citizens of Illinois, all lead service lines must be replaced by the owner or operator of any community water supply. The owners and operators of community water supplies include municipalities that own or operate water systems.

Under the Act, starting January 1, 2022, operators of community water supplies are required, among other things, to:

  • Develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive Water Service Line Material Inventory identifying and documenting the materials that currently make up all of the water service lines within the municipality, and to prepare a comprehensive Lead Service Line Replacement Plan, including cost estimates and anticipated funding sources. The inventory and replacement plans must be submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency by certain deadlines as specified in the Act;
  • Implement the Lead Service Line Replacement Plan according to timelines prescribed by the Act based on the number of lead service lines identified in the municipality, by replacing all identified lead service lines, including the private portion of the service line;
  • Provide notice to occupants of potentially affected buildings before any construction or repair work on water mains or lead service lines occurs; and
  • Request access to potentially affected buildings before replacing lead service lines.

CREATION OF MATERIAL INVENTORY: By April 15, 2022, municipalities are required by the Act to create an initial material inventory containing the total number of service lines located within the municipality and the material of each line. This inventory is required to be updated and initially submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) by April 15, 2023, and a final inventory is required to be completed and submitted to IEPA by April 15, 2024.

LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT PLAN: Following creation of the water service line material inventory, a lead service line replacement plan is required to be drafted by any municipality with known or suspected lead service lines. This plan will identify the course of action each water supplier will take to replace all the lead service lines within its service area. The initial phase of the replacement plan is required to be submitted by early 2024 with the final version due 2027. The percentage of lines that must be replaced per year, and the length of time a municipality will have to replace all lead service lines, is dependent on the number of lead service lines within the community.  

NOTIFICATION OF LEAD SERVICE LINE: If a building is identified as connected to a lead service line, the municipality is required by the Act to attempt to notify the owner of the building and all occupants by individual written notice within 15 days of initial identification, or as soon thereafter as is reasonably possible.

MUNICIPAL REPLACEMENT GENERALLY: Beginning January 1, 2022, the Act requires that lead service lines must be replaced by municipalities, in their entirety, as part of any planned or emergency water distribution system project. This includes the portion of the service line on private property and within the building’s plumbing at the first shut-off valve or 18-inches inside the building, whichever is shorter. Partial replacements are prohibited, except in certain instances as specified in the Act. These replacement requirements should be taken into account in all water main replacement projects and whenever emergency repairs are made.

FUNDING: Municipalities are responsible for funding the entire cost of lead service line replacements when using state or federal funding to complete the work. Where a municipality expends its own funds for a replacement, it can require the owner of the private portion of the lead service line to fund the replacement of that part of the line. Municipalities can seek low interest or forgivable loans for lead service line replacement through the IEPA. The Act also allows for municipalities to levy taxes to pay for lead service line replacements.

BUILDING OWNER PROJECTS: In the event an owner of a building with lead service lines or suspected lead service lines intends to replace a portion of the lead service line, or a galvanized service line that is or was connected downstream to lead piping, the Act requires the owner to provide the municipality with notice at least 45 days prior to commencing the work. In the case of emergency repairs by an owner, the owner must provide filters in kitchen areas. Following receipt of notice of completion of an emergency repair performed by an owner, the municipality is required to replace the remainder of the lead service line within 30 days, or up to 120 days if necessary due to weather conditions. Partial lead service line replacements by owners are otherwise prohibited.

PROVIDING NOTICE OF MUNICIPAL REPLACEMENTS: In the event a municipality plans to replace a lead service line or suspected lead service line, the municipality is required to attempt to contact the owner by mail at least 45 days prior to the work to request access to the building and permission to replace the line. If no response is received within 15 days of the initial request, the municipality shall attempt to post the request on the entrance to the building.

EMERGENCY REPAIRS BY MUNICIPALITY: In the event of an emergency repair affecting a lead service line or a suspected lead service line, where immediate access for a full lead service line replacement is not granted or the owner is unable to be contacted, partial repairs may be made by the municipality. The property owner and all building occupants shall be notified that the repair has been completed and will be provided point-of-use filters by the municipality. The remainder of the lead service line must then be replaced within 30 days of the emergency repair (or up to 120 days if impacted by adverse weather).

DENIAL OF ACCESS: If a property owner refuses to allow access to the property for lead service line replacement, the owner will be requested to sign a waiver developed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The property owner may then be responsible in some cases for installing and maintaining point-of-use filters in perpetuity until the lead service line is replaced. If a property owner refuses to sign a waiver, IDPH will be notified by the municipality.

NEXT STEPS: Municipalities at this time should be working to make key personnel aware of the requirements of the Act, be working on an initial material inventory of service lines, be prepared to act in conformance with the notification and replacement requirements of the Act when performing emergency repairs or planned water main replacement projects, be making policy decisions related to who will pay for the private portion of a lead service line when replacements are made using municipal funds, be considering how to most effectively sync-up water main replacement projects with lead service line replacements, and be considering options for funding lead service line replacements going forward. For additional details on the Act and its requirements, we recommend consulting with your municipal engineer and attorney.  

The full text of the Act can be viewed here:

Authored by: