Lead Service Lines
Service lines are underground water pipes that connect homes or buildings to a source of drinking water such as a water main or private well. Water service lines are generally jointly owned by water supplies and property owners. When these service lines are made of lead, they can be significant contributors to lead contamination of drinking water. Under Public Act 099-0922 which took effect in 2017, community water supplies in Illinois have been required to submit annual service line material inventories to IEPA. In 2019, community water supplies in Illinois reported 677,359 known lead service lines currently connected to Illinois water systems. To learn more about lead service lines inventories in Illinois, visit IEPA’s lead service line information website.
The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act
To address the known and unknown burden of lead service lines in the state, the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, Public Act 102-0613, was passed. This Act requires community water supplies to continue inventorying activities while developing and implementing plans to identify and remove lead service lines. In addition, it requires community water supplies to give owners and occupants notifications about lead service lines serving their homes or buildings and construction activities that may release lead into drinking water. The Act also prohibits partial lead service line replacement except in certain circumstances.
Lead Service Lines
Service lines are plumbing as defined by the Illinois Plumbing License Law. When being repaired or replaced, they should be installed by individuals authorized by the Law and in accordance with the requirements of the Illinois Plumbing Code. Additionally, before being covered or used, service lines should be inspected by a licensed plumber in accordance with the requirements in the Illinois Plumbers Licensing Code.
Questions about specific requirements of the plumbing code should be submitted to your local plumbing inspection authority or IDPH at DPH.Plumbing@illinois.gov.
Partial Lead Service Line Replacements
Public Act 102-0613 prohibits partial lead service line replacements except in certain circumstances because partial lead service line replacements can increase lead levels for long periods of time. Partial lead service line replacement means replacement of only a portion of a lead service line. Studies show that partial lead service line replacements can increase the amount of lead in a building’s drinking water. Following partial repair, lead levels increase and construction activities such as digging and cutting release particulate lead. Particulate lead is a concern because the lead content can be very high. Additionally, new materials from partial lead service line replacements can increase corrosion or create galvanic corrosion which can also increase the amount of lead in the building’s drinking water.
Property owners must be presented with a waiver by the community water supply if the owner is considering denying complete lead service line replacement. This waiver was developed by IDPH and is available here.