Lead Service Line Replacement Program
The City of Wheaton has started a multi-year capital program to replace parts of the City’s water distribution system that are made from lead with new copper services. Over the next 8 years, crews plan to work throughout the community until all lead-containing services have been replaced.
While the City treats Wheaton’s water to prevent the corrosion of lead services into the water supply and regularly tests Wheaton's water to ensure your water meets or exceeds all Illinois Environmental Protection (IEPA) standards, the City is replacing services made from lead to ensure the best possible drinking water for everyone in our community using currently recommended materials.
This work is consistent with the Illinois Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, which requires Illinois communities to begin identifying lead service lines, notifying residents and creating a plan to replace them. The City of Wheaton is taking a proactive approach by replacing lead service lines ahead of the state's requirements and at no cost to property owners, even for the replacement of lead service lines on private property.
This program will combine the efforts of City Water Division crews and an outside contractor.
Why Some Water Service Lines Are Made from Lead
For some structures, water service lines (the pipes carrying water from the City water main to a structure) are made from lead. This was a commonly used material for water service lines before the 1950s, and it was used in some plumbing parts up until the Clean Water Act was passed in 1986 regulating lead in water. Approximately 7% of the City's more than 16,500 water service lines are made from lead.
The City's Lead Service Line Replacement Program will replace:
- Lead water service lines on City-owned property (for example, in the parkway and under streets)
- Lead water service lines on private property, with property owner approval, at no cost to the property owner (for example, from the connection at the water meter to the water service shutoff in the parkway)
The illustration below shows a water service line from its connection to your home all the way to the City water main. You can see the portion of the water service line that is on the homeowner's property and the portion that is on City property.
How Do I Know If My Service Contains Lead?
The City's Water Division has created a comprehensive inventory of the materials used for every water service in the community. If your property contains a water service line made from lead, the City will mail you a notice requesting permission to replace the lead service line at no cost to you. You can confirm whether or not your property has a lead service line on this map:
Please note that only properties that have service lines containing lead are included on this map. If you search for or zoom into your address and do not see a colored dot that you can click on for more information, then the City determined your water service line does not contain lead.
When Will My Service Line Be Replaced?
The City will be working to replace all lead service lines through 2031. If your property is part of this program, the above map has your estimated year of completion.
In Wheaton, all facilities interacting with young children, such as elementary schools or childcare centers, have already been identified as having non-lead water services. The replacement schedule follows the City's water meter reading routes to ensure all service lines throughout the City are addressed in an efficient manner.
For detailed information on which portion of your water service line contains lead and when it is scheduled to be replaced, see the example below. Upon finding your address, click on the dot to see additional details. The top row shows the material the service line is made from in the homeowner's portion (consumer material). The second row shows the material the City's portion is made from. The third row shows the year it is scheduled to be replaced.
For this example, the service line on private property is made from copper (meaning the portion on private property does not need to be replaced) and the City-owned side is suspected to contain lead, so the City plans to replace the City portion in 2026.
What You Need to Do
During the year in which your service line will be replaced, if the portion of your water service line on private property contains lead, the City will provide you with a form indicating that you elect to participate/decline participation in the program and a participation agreement to complete and return to the City. This is an important step in the process, as we need your consent to perform work for you on private property. We appreciate your prompt response.
We understand that some property owners whose service lines on private property contain lead may want to have their service line replaced sooner than the City's multi-year schedule. If you would like to hire a contractor to complete this work on private property and receive reimbursement from the City outside of this program, please contact the City of Wheaton Water Division at 630-260-2090 to request participation in a reimbursement program. The City will require you to obtain the proper City permits for this work, but permit fees will be waived. If the service line contains lead on both the property owner's side and the City's side, the City will coordinate with your contractor to have City crews replace the City side of the service line in conjunction with your contractor's work.
Individuals who elect not to have the City replace their lead service line on private property will be required to complete a form that the City submits to the Illinois Department of Public Health stating the property owner does not consent to replacement.
What You Can Expect
- At least 45 days prior to a lead service replacement, the City of Wheaton will send you a letter requesting access to the building and permission to replace the lead service line.
- A City of Wheaton Water Division employee will contact you to schedule a site visit to your home. Water Division employees will arrive in a City vehicle marked with the City seal and will have a City of Wheaton badge.
- Water service line replacement will be completed either by a City-hired contractor or City of Wheaton Water Division employees. For water service lines on private property, this work may include property restoration, including landscape restoration that may be disturbed during the replacement process. The process the City will be using is a trenchless replacement process to minimize yard disruption. The City and contractor will communicate with you throughout this process to ensure the least amount of disruption possible. You will receive instructions with any information you may need, and we will keep you updated during this process.
Timeline of Lead History
|1800s-1940s||Lead service lines were installed primarily during the late 1800s through 1940s.|
|1931||Wheaton City Code states that copper water services shall be used.|
|1942||City Ordinance allows lead services in lieu of copper, likely due to metal shortages during WWII.|
|1986||The Clean Water Act is passed, regulating lead in water.|
|1991||The Environmental Protection Agency adopts the Lead and Copper Rule to control lead and copper in drinking water.|
|1992||The City of Wheaton begins using Lake Michigan as our water source, treated at the Jardine Water Purification Plant in Chicago. The City of Chicago has had a corrosion control program in place since September 1993.|
|2016 (April)||Illinois EPA added requirements to the Lead and Copper Rule requiring water suppliers to create a water service material inventory.|
|2022 (January)||Illinois enacts the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, providing a timeline and requirements for the replacement of all lead service lines within Illinois.|
Frequently Asked Questions About Lead
What is lead?
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead can be found in air, soil, dust, food, and water.
How can I be exposed to lead?
The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure to lead in American youth. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, lead also can be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency states that lead pipes are more likely to be found in older homes built before Congress enacted lead-reduction requirements as part of the Safe Drinking Water Act amendments in 1986. As a result, homes built in or after 1986 are far less likely to have lead pipes.
Does Wheaton’s water have lead in it?
To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA has regulations that limit the amount of specific contaminants in water provided by public water systems. As a result, the City of Wheaton regularly tests its water for lead, bacteria, and other regulated contaminants. The City can report that no lead contaminant level violations were recorded during 2020. The next testing year will be in 2023, followed by 2026, provided there are no modifications to the lead and copper rule.
How do I find more information?
Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline 800-426-4791 or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.
Additional Preventative Actions You Can Take
Again, the City of Wheaton regularly tests our water as presecribed by the IEPA, and you should feel confident that your drinking water is safe. If you receive a notification that you have a lead service line and you would like to take additional preventative actions, the IEPA states that to reduce potential exposure in drinking water you can:
- Run water at the kitchen tap for 1-2 minutes to clear potential lead from household plumbing. Then, fill a container with water and store it in the refrigerator for drinking, cooking or preparing baby formula throughout the day.
- Use cold water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula, as lead dissolves more easily into hot water.
- You can consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter that is certified to remove "total lead."
- Clean and remove any debris from faucet aerators on a regular basis.
- Purchase lead-free faucets and plumbing components.
- Test your water for lead. Call the Water Division at 630-260-2090 to find out how to get your water tested for lead. If test results indicate a lead level above 15 parts per billion, bottled water should be used by pregnant women, breastfeeding women, young children and formula-fed infants.
For more information, contact the Water Division at 630-260-2090.