RIVER GROVE, Ill. (CBS) – Replace, don’t repair. An Illinois law that went into effect this year mandates that lead pipes be entirely removed when broken, on the basis that work on or around a lead service line could release particles that contaminate drinking water.
National environmental experts applauded Illinois lawmakers for the legislation. But Morning Insider Lauren Victory may have found an unintended consequence bubbling up from the bill.
"Where is this water coming from?" – It’s a question no homeowner ever wants to ask.
"I’m like, ‘OK, what do I do?’" said Di Anne Chudzik, a homeowner in River Grove.
Chudzik thought the water heater might be leaking.
But a plumber found a broken pipe underneath her home. The problem then got worse.
"It’s lead and it has to come out," she said. "And that’s when all this started to unfold."
Instead of a $550 repair, her bill ballooned to nearly $7,700.
"I cried," she said. "I broke down."
She worries about the flood of emotions that’ll hit other homeowners across Illinois.
"I just learned this was state mandated, yes," Chudzik said.
Her pipe couldn’t just be fixed. The entire thing needed to come out per a new state law called the "Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act."
All this heavy lifting on her property came out of her pocket.
River Grove needed to pay to replace its portion of the lead pipe too. The scenario could play out at thousands of other properties, just in this area.
"When you stop and you start doing the math on this, it’s frightening," Chudzik said.
Officials at Village Hall agree with her and we’ve learned River Grove isn’t the only municipality with questions about using taxpayer money for the mandated work.
State officials presented their concerns to the Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board a few weeks ago.
"We’re gonna have to find some new revenue sources," one official said.
La Grange Park leaders submitted a latter to the board, citing resident "annoyance," "fear," and frustration with the new law.
For now, Chudzik is left with a messy yard, unexpected credit card debt and a lot of questions.
The River Grove woman was unaware that homeowners can deny replacing the entire lead pipe if a waiver is signed.
That waiver would inform the state that you accept the risk of possible lead contamination in your drinking water.
Interview requests for the main lawmakers who sponsored the bill went unanswered.
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December 12, 2022 at 09:50AM