East Peoria to residents: pipe up on what gets water in the home

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:45 PM CST
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PEORIA (25News Now) - East Peoria Water Department is looking to improve pipe systems across the city, and they’re asking residents to start by watching their mail.

Mailers will be going out to every home that gets public water, acting as a census for the pipes. EPWD wants residents to identify the material that makes up the primary service line bringing water into their homes.

It’s part of a national initiative, fueled by a 2021 state law.

An example of the mailer East Peoria is sending to residents.
An example of the mailer East Peoria is sending to residents.(WEEK)

“In accordance with the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act which was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2021, the Illinois EPA is requiring all community water supplies to submit material inventories of all drinking water service lines in their distribution systems,” a statement from an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said.

Residents can either fill out the pre-paid postcard or submit pictures of their pipes to the department using a QR code provided in the mailer.

There’s a possible margin of error, as residents may not easily be able to tell the pipes apart. If they’re unsure, the Water Department said they can call the number provided in the mailer, or send pictures via the QR code. From there, Water Department workers can quickly identify the material.

The city said the entire process of finding their service line and main shutoff valve should only take a few minutes. They also offer tips for identifying the material.

PipeSigns to look for
LeadThe pipe may resemble a snake that has swallowed a mouse and may be curved
GalvanizedThe pipe is thicker and has threaded fittings
CopperThe pipe is penny-colored and may have green corrosion
PlasticThe pipe is smooth to the touch and sometimes blue or black in color

The ultimate goal is to identify and remove lead pipes from homes. Lead lines were banned in 1986, but some have remained due to old construction. Plus, lead pipes leading into homes can create cross-contamination, even if the home uses a different material.

The deadline for the inventory of every water line in Illinois isn’t until April 2024. However, East Peoria Water and Wastewater Superintendent Cord Crisler want to get ahead of everyone else. The project is currently funded by the municipalities, meaning the bill will ultimately come down on property owners and taxpayers.

The sooner East Peoria residents give their data to the city, the sooner the city can apply for grants, increasing the odds of taking the financial burden off residents.

“If we get a grant that covers a big cost of that then that’s fantastic, and if we don’t, we’ll have to absorb those costs somewhere,” Crisler said.

It’s not clear how many lead pipes could be in East Peoria. Crisler said he also doesn’t know for sure how much it would cost to extract and replace the lead pipes at one residence. That final cost would be determined after they know if grants are secured.

“I don’t think we’ve got a whole lot but there’s some in there that we do know of,” Crisler said of lead pipes. “Once we get that information then we’ll be reaching out to customers and slowly working our way through these service lines.”

If a homeowner discovers lead pipes, they can report it to the Water Department, and the city will reach out to schedule a replacement. Crisler urges patience as it will take time to get all potential lead and contaminated pipes removed.