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 be installed if there was not already one there to help save money on water bills.
If you live in a house or two-flat built before 1986, there is a high likelihood that your service line is lead unless it was replaced during renovation or an addition.
Chicago has commissioned an ongoing technical report to help us understand what it would take to replace the city’s almost 400,000 lead service lines 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 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 over $3,000. Additionally, the City will attach the new service line to the water main and install a free water meter- if there isn't already in place- to help save money on water bills. To qualify, the request for the fee waiver must be a standalone and not made in conjunction with a home renovation or expansion.
Determine if you have a lead service line. How To Determine Your Service Line Material provides a few easy steps to determine if your service line is lead.
The contractor will notify Department of Buildings that this is a LSLR project eligible for permit fee waivers.*
* 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. A City Inspector will review the installation, and Water Management Staff will complete the tap into the water main and install the meter. Flush your water per instructions. Using filters that are NSF-certified to remove lead is recommended for the first three months after any construction work.
This program is expected to launch January, 2021 so please check back for more info!
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 water meter to save money on your water bills if:
Call 311 or sign up on chicagowaterquality.org to request a free test for lead.
Submit application documenting household income and home ownership.
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. A City Inspector will review the installation, and Water Management Staff will complete the tap into the water main and install the meter. Flush your water per instructions. Using filters that are NSF-certified to remove lead is recommended for the first three months after any construction work.
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 expected to launch in late November, so check back soon!
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.