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The Drip from the Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board

Did you know, that as of January 2022, 667,275 lead service lines have been reported in Illinois and an additional 819,586 lines were still of unknown material out of a total of 3,852,509 service lines? The Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board estimates that it will cost between $5.5 and $8 billion dollars to complete the statewide replacement of all lead service lines. The Advisory Board, created and mandated by the Illinois Lead Service Line Replacement Act to identify recommendations for successful implementation, reiterated that there are currently no dedicated revenue sources to generate the funding needed to replace Illinois’ lead service lines.

The Advisory Board considered existing grants and loans available to communities as well as potential new sources such as:

  • A new assessment per 1,000 gallons on water bills that could be re-distributed by the state to communities
  • A fee added to every water main connection as either a monthly fee or annual charge
  • A statewide bottled water tax collected by merchants at the point of sale
  • Local water rate increases or water bill surcharge dedicated for lead service line replacements

The full Advisory Board report, available online, outlines different lead service line replacement scenarios, challenges, technical and administrative considerations, workforce capacity needs and how some communities are addressing lead line replacements. Key recommendations include additional research and stakeholder discussions around the feasibility of new state revenue sources as well as additional research and work around solutions to identified technical challenges.

What does this mean at the local level? Agencies responsible for community water supplies should understand these technical challenges and anticipate other issues they might encounter. They should also continue moving forward with inventorying service lines, be aware of the regulatory deadlines and requirements for submitting replacement plans and start coordination efforts. Gaining traction in these areas will help prepare communities for federal and state funding.

Source: Illinois EPA Lead Service Line Information

From Planning to Reality

In 2013, the Village of Algonquin completed the Downtown Planning Study in anticipation of the IL Route 31 Bypass which would reduce traffic traveling through the downtown and open up new opportunities for redevelopment. A careful planning process and public engagement resulted in a framework to guide the creation of a pedestrian-friendly environment that protected the historic character of Main Street and the surrounding area. After completing engineering and securing grant funding, the Village kicked off the first phase of construction in 2018 followed by additional phases that address infrastructure needs, enhance streetscapes, improve pedestrian safety and add new features to draw people to the downtown and local businesses. The first phase included addressing underground utilities and burying overhead utilities as well as adding planters, seating, brick sidewalks, curb bump outs, decorative lighting, electric vehicle charging stations, new roadway pavement, an outdoor fire place and decorative gateway. Subsequent phases have included water and sewer infrastructure improvements, road and bridge improvements, a new roundabout, new and improved bicycle connections and additional streetscape enhancements. Having a strategic plan along with the commitment of staff and elected officials has been key to the Village’s success in revitalizing its downtown and creating a vibrant and welcoming space for residents, businesses and visitors.

Applying for Grants - Should You Collaborate Instead?

In our last newsletter, we covered some of the warning signs local agencies should flag to understand when to say no to applying for grants. With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), there are definitely more funding opportunities open to local governments. But sometimes, the better alternative is working with other local or regional agencies to collaborate on applications. Read more here in our Perspectives post.

Upcoming Funding Deadlines

State & Regional Programs

August 31, 2023 - Illinois DNR Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program

October 18, 2023 - Illinois EPA Green Infrastructure Grant Opportunity Program

October 2, 2023 - IDOT Safe Routes to School Program

December 31, 2023 - MWRD Green Infrastructure Partnership Program Pre-Applications


Federal Programs

August 18, 2023 - FHWA PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program

August 21, 2023 - USDOT Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Opportunity

September 28, 2023 - USDOT Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program

Morton Arboretum - Of the Earth Exhibit

Our team recently visited the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. The Morton Arboretum's new outdoor exhibition, Of the Earth, features five large-scale sculptures created by Polish American artist Olga Ziemska. Ziemska's work has been featured globally in Poland, Taiwan, Italy, South Korea and Mexico. Each sculpture includes a variety of reclaimed materials gathered from throughout the Arboretum and showcases the beautiful relationship between human life and nature. Staff enjoyed learning about the artist, seeing the beautiful exhibits and spending the day outside together.

Visit the Morton Arboretum Website

Spread the Word - We’re Hiring!

Metro Strategies Group is seeking a Planning and Research Specialist to join our versatile team to support the firm’s projects and clients. Key responsibilities include creating funding plans, preparing grant applications, researching best practices, developing surveys, drafting presentations, writing white papers and facilitating meetings. Click here to learn more.