Water Supply Management - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Water Supply Management

Ensuring safe, sustainable and equitable drinking water systems

A statewide solution to lead in drinking water

Lead in drinking water primarily comes from service lines made with lead, which bring water into homes from utilities’ water mains. Although we've known for decades that no amount of lead exposure is safe, at least 686,000 lead service lines remain in counties across the state. This outdated infrastructure is a public health threat: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, any amount of lead exposure can lower IQs, increase attention-related behavior problems, and reduce growth and hearing in children. The negative effects of childhood lead exposure linger for a lifetime, and we all pay the costs. However, Black and Latinx Illinoisans are twice as likely as whites to live in communities with the most lead service lines.  


An equitable solution:


Economic recovery through lead service lines:


Lead service line's public health threat:


MPC is working with a broad-based group of partners across Illinois to identify a feasible and equitable plan, timeline, and funding for Illinois water utilities to identify and replace all lead service lines. This is the best way to eliminate lead in drinking water. Doing so would make Illinois and its communities more resilient and less vulnerable to a drinking water crisis, with modern infrastructure to provide clean, safe water to all homes, schools, and businesses. It would also save money in the long run, in terms of healthcare costs and crisis mitigation. And replacing all of the lead pipes would generate thousands of jobs that can help put Illinois on the path to equitable recovery.

You can take action to eliminate lead service lines in Illinois. 

Additional resources:

Fact Sheet: Illinois' Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act

Data points: The environmental injustice of lead in Illinois: MPC analysis shows that people of color in Illinois are up to twice as likely as white Illinoisans to live in the communities where almost all of Illinois' lead service lines are located. 

The costs of lead in our drinking water: What price will we pay if we fail to eliminate lead service lines in Illinois? MPC explores two major categories of costs—healthcare and crisis management—to explain how expensive it is to continue to ignore this problem.  

Data Points: How replacing lead service lines will put people back to work: MPC analysis shows that replacing all of the state's lead service lines could create up to 224,500 jobs and $23 billion in additional economic activity.

Lead in Drinking Water: A Community Guide for Immediate Action: This one-page resource highlights 10 actions community leaders and staff can take to help protect their communities, and rebuild public trust on the issue of lead in drinking water.

Drinking Water 1-2-3: A guide for elected officials and community leaders to educate and support a better understanding of water management, including critical questions and actions needed today.

Lead in Drinking Water Blog Series: This blog series explores the complicated issue of, and prudent solutions for addressing lead in our drinking water, including posts from guest authors.

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

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