Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy: Event #2 Recap - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Drinking Water 1-2-3 Academy: Event #2 Recap

Lead Service Lines

This event was made possible through the generous support of Robinson Engineering

MPC wishes to express our sincere appreciation to all of the speakers who made the July 15 event thought-provoking and instructive! Click here to view a recording of this event or read the transcript, and continue reading for a recap of the day’s presentations: 

  • First, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth joined MPC’s Justin Keller in a “Lakeside Chat” to discuss the 6 million total lead service lines in the United States, 23% of which are in Illinois. The federal government’s share of capital spending in the water sector fell from 63% in 1977 to 9% in 2017, which is why she sponsored a Senate bill that reauthorizes or establishes a variety of programs for water infrastructure, including lead service line replacement as well as programs aimed at addressing water affordability, wastewater treatment, fixing leaks, and more. This major investment in public health will pay dividends in terms of economic growth and local job development.
  • Then Brenda Santoyo from LVEJO presented on the cost of lead service line replacement statewide, environmental justice concerns, and the timeline of the new legislation. The issue impacts communities throughout the state, not just in the Chicago area, but it doesn’t impact all communities the same. Specifically, Black Illinoisans are more than twice as likely to live in communities with the majority of lead service lines, and they are more prevalent in communities with high numbers of renters and low-income residents. Click here to view Brenda Santoyo’s slides.
  • Next up, the panel discussion, moderated by Monica Eng from WBEZ, covered a wide range of topics related to lead service lines, including what’s involved in replacing a single service line, the policy decisions municipalities can make upfront, the importance of public education and communication campaigns, and more. This was followed by a lengthy Q&A session in which our panelists addressed many of the participants' questions and concerns related to lead and water.
  • Finally, Annie Storey from ISAWWA wrapped up the day with an overview of the Water Ambassador Program which aims to elevate public perception, knowledge, and consumer education for the water industry.

Speaker Bios:

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (Keynote)

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2014. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.

Monica Eng (Panel Moderator)

Reporter, WBEZ
Monica Eng is WBEZ’s Curious City reporter. She also reports on food, health, cultural and environmental issues at the station. Monica came to WBEZ in 2013 from the Chicago Tribune where she spent 16 years editing and reporting on food, culture and health. Before that she wrote and edited at the Daily Southtown and Chicago Sun-Times. Monica has won multiple writing awards and been nominated for the James Beard Award five times. Monica is a fourth generation Chicagoan whose children are fourth generation Chicago Public School graduates.


Thomas E. Nagle, PE (Panelist)
Vice President, Robinson Engineering

Mr. Nagle is a licensed Professional Engineer with over 34years of experience in water resource management, water quality improvement, water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection, wastewater treatment, stormwater, structures, asset management, environmental restoration, sustainable development, and regulatory compliance.

Ian Robinson (Panelist)
Managing Director, BlueConduit
Ian manages BlueConduit’s work with cities across the country and  recently co-authored a white paper with ASDWA on the use of statistical methods for inventorying and locating lead service lines. His previous experience is in growing start-ups. He graduated from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment  with an MBA/MS. He excels at human-centered design, stakeholder engagement, and business strategy. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador from 2009-2012. 

Brenda Santoyo (Presenter)

Policy Associate, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
Brenda Santoyo is a Policy Associate at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO). LVEJO focuses on addressing the needs of Little Village residents who are at the frontline of environmental burdens including air pollution, water access, lack of green space and food insecurity. Brenda takes part in advocacy, outreach, and research efforts pertaining to Water Justice work throughout Chicago. The work focuses on advocating for affordable water rate reform, ensuring access to safe quality water, investments in water infrastructure improvements, and addressing urban flooding in disenfranchised communities. Brenda holds a double Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

Annie Storey (Presenter)
Executive Director, Illinois Section American Water Works Association
Annie is the Executive Director of the Illinois Section American Water Works Association. Annie’s professional experience includes working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National PTA and more.  Her bachelors is in public administration and masters in Child, Youth and Family studies. She received the Certified Association Executive credential in 2016 and was named a Forty Under 40 in 2019 by Association Forum. Annie grew up in Nebraska and has made her home in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and two daughters.


Alexis Woodrow (Panelist)

Lead Reduction Program Manager, Denver Water
Alexis Woodrow has been employed at Denver Water since 2007 and has worked in multiple roles at the water utility, including water resource planner, program manager, and process improvement facilitator. Since 2016 she has played an active role in helping Denver Water better provide safe drinking water by addressing sources of lead in tap water and currently serves as Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program Manager. She is a registered Project Management Professional (PMP, 2015) and has over 8 years of project management experience. 


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