City officials are urging residents to sign up for a new program that offers free replacement of potential hazardous lead water service lines when water mains in a neighborhood are replaced.

Water Production Bureau Chief Darrell King, speaking at two ward meetings Thursday night, said only 8% of eligible property owners have signed up in the 5th Ward and just 46% in the 8th Ward.

Darrell King.

The 5th Ward project involves water mains on Emerson Street from Leland to Hartrey avenues. The 8th Ward project involves water mains on Dewey Avenue from Oakton to Kirk streets.

Also eligible for the same program this year:

  • 2nd Ward: Dempster Street from Hartrey to Dodge avenues.
  • 6th Ward: Ewing Avenue from Grant to Payne streets and Forestview Road from Payne to Colfax streets.
  • 7th Ward: Lincoln Street from Ashland Avenue to Green Bay Road, Eastwood Avenue from Isabella to Livingston streets and Isabella Street from Bryant Avenue to the North Shore Channel.

To have the work done, a property owner must sign a right of entry form so the city can send a team into the home to determine exactly what needs to be done to make the replacement and schedule the work. More information about the program is available online.

The Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention says lead exposure is especially harmful to children and unsafe drinking water is a major source of lead exposure.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said he’s been working with State Sen. Mike Simmons, whose district includes a slice of south Evanston, to get more state funds for lead service line replacement. 

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said he’d like to go out door-knocking with the city’s consultants on the lead water line replacement project to try to get more people to sign up. “I know we can get a better response than that,” Burns said.

Two programs to reduce water bills

King also encouraged low-income residents to sign up for two programs that can reduce water and sewer bills. Both programs are managed by CEDA, the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, reduces water and sewer rates by 37%.

The Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program, or LIHWAP, provides a one-time payment of up to $1,500 for overdue water bills.

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