Galesburg lead pipe replacement project nears completion

The project is set to wrap up in June 2023
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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GALESBURG, Ill. (KWQC) - In 2016, the city of Galesburg began phase one of a lead pipe replacement project. Now, the end of this project is in sight.

Nearly 3,000 pipes have been replaced so far since the program started in 2016. Over the course of the next year, the final 500 pipes are slated to be replaced.

Back in 2015, the city of Galesburg found that many of their pipes were “above the action level for lead” while doing their annual lead testing. The city also was under intense scrutiny from the EPA for childhood lead poisoning. The city then put forth a plan to fix this problem.

“We also knew that in the long term, it’s best to get the lead service lines removed,” Wayne Carl, the Director of Public Works said. “And so through the help of Congressman Cheri Bustos, we were able to work with EPA to obtain the first $2 million forgivable loan through the drinking water program.”

From then on, the city was able to receive forgivable loans from the state of Illinois as well as the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. This means the residents of Galesburg would not see a tax increase to pay for this project.

“The EPA has requirements on how much they’ll forgive depending on what your financial ability for Galesburg is,” Carl said. “We’re an economically depressed community. So we qualified for 100% principle forgiveness, but other communities, it might only be 50% through their program.”

The city was several phases into the action plan when Governor JB Pritzker signed the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act in 2021 which requires all Illinois cities to replace lead service pipes.

Now, after the first five phase were completed, the final phase of the project is within sight and the mayor of Galesburg, Peter Schwartzman says the city council is thrilled to see the project come to a close.

“We got on top of this and we worked diligently with our staff to ensure that our lines would be removed,” Schwartzman said. “It does take time, but we kind of saw the end of the finish line is within sight now. We’re very excited about it.”

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