Lead Service Line Replacement
What does it take to replace a lead service line?
Replacing a service line requires digging down to the water main in the street and installing a new copper service line from the main all the way into the house. It does require excavating a trench to reach the line which usually runs from the house under the lawn and the parkway out to the street. When the trench is open, the old lead line will be removed and a new copper service line will be installed and a water meter will need to be installed if there was not already one there to help save money on water bills.
Typical Water Service Line Diagram
CITY-ASSISTED LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT PROGRAMS
If you live in a house or two-flat built before 1986, there is a high likelihood that your water service line is made of lead unless it was replaced during renovation or an addition.
Chicago has commissioned an ongoing technical report to help us to replace the city’s almost 400,000 lead service lines over time that transport water from the water main in the street into homes. Meanwhile, the City has announced two new lead service line replacement programs for homeowners who would like to replace their lead service lines.
If a residential homeowner wants to hire a contractor and remove the existing lead service line, the City of Chicago is launching a program to waive the permit fees for the project. This could amount to a savings of up to $3,100. Additionally, the City will attach the new service line to the water main and provide a free water meter for the contractor to install, if there isn't already one in place. To qualify, the request for the fee waiver must be a standalone and not made in conjunction with a home renovation or expansion.
*Commercial and mixed use residential/commercial locations are not eligible at this time.
Verify service line material
Determine if you have a lead service line. Check your service line for lead provides a few easy steps to determine if your service line is lead.
Permit Fee Waiver
The contractor will notify Department of Buildings that this is a LSLR project eligible for permit fee waivers. *Contractors can upload their documents (water bill, picture of property, CDOT permit) to the Department of Buildings here.
* Additional permits and permit fees may be required from other agencies, such as IDOT, depending on the location of the home.
Meet with the contractor prior to commencing work to review how the work will be done and how much restoration will be performed.
The contractor will complete the LSLR and meter installation, if necessary. A City Inspector will review the installation, and Water Management Staff will connect the new service line into the water main. Flush your water per instructions. Using filters that are NSF-53 certified to remove lead is recommended for the first three months after any construction work.
Follow-Up Water Testing
Receive free follow-up lead testing of your water by calling 311 or going to chicagowaterquality.org to have a kit mailed to you.
Select your own plumber or refer to the list of plumbing contractors licensed to work in Chicago here. A list of suggested questions you may want to ask when choosing a plumbing contractor here.
This program is accepting applications.
Equity Lead Service Line Replacement Program
Under this program, you may be eligible for a free lead service line replacement all the way from the water main into your home plus installation of a free water meter to save money on your water bills if:
- Live in a home you own.
- Have a household income below 80% of the area median income ($72,800 for a family of 4). More info here.
- Have consistent results of at least 15 parts per billion of lead in your water in free testing done by the Department of Water Management.
Equity Replacement Program
Determine Income Eligibility
Submit application documenting household income and home ownership to see if you qualify. Complete the online application or download the application form.
Once approved for a free service line, meet with the City-provided Contractor to learn about how the work will done and then agree to the work.
The City-provided Contractor will complete the LSLR and, if necessary, the meter installation. A City Inspector will review the installation, and Water Management staff will connect the new service line into the water main. Flush your water per instructions. Using filters that are NSF-53 certified to remove lead is recommended for the first three months after any construction work.
Follow-Up Water Testing
Receive free follow-up lead testing of your water by calling 311 or going to chicagowaterquality.org.
If you are interested in this program but have not already had your water tested, request a free water test kit here.
This program is now accepting applications. Complete the online application or download the application form.
Once a reviewer has received and reviewed your application, you will be contacted to provide supporting documentation. For a list of supporting documents you will need, click here. An online portal for submission of documents is expected to launch in April 2021 so check back soon!
MORE TO COME
Chicago is exploring additional programs for those residents who wish to replace their service lines but do not qualify for the Homeowner-Initiated or Equity Programs.
New programs and services will be announced here when they become available.