South Jacksonville Behind on Lead Service Line Replacement Requirements

By Benjamin Cox on February 16, 2024 at 10:16am

Photo Courtesy of Fehr Graham Engineers.

The Village of South Jacksonville’s utility department is behind on lead service line replacement.

The Village’s water department has been behind the last several months as they continue to try and get the water treatment plant at Oxville back running. Utility Department Supervisor Brian English says that while they have been working diligently to get the water treatment plant back online, they have fallen behind on other requirements.

The Illinois EPA has required municipalities to submit a plan to replace lead service water lines by April 15th. English says that the Village of South Jacksonville has requested and been granted an extension until September to submit their plan.

English says one of the reasons for the delays is that the village has had to rent equipment to dig down and identify the village’s lines. He says there has been no records kept on materials for any of the village’s water service lines and they are having to dig down in the street to identify which ones need replaced.

Last night, English asked the village board of trustees to consider the purchase of a skid steer and a mini track hoe. Village President Dick Samples says the $80-90 thousand dollar purchase would be a good investment for the village: “They can be utilized for things like sweeping the streets. We purchased a brush last year to sweep the gutters and so on, but the old, wore out one we have…and I’m talking about the skid loader…we just need another one.”

Samples says on top of the financial need for the equipment is the timeline for the lead line replacement. Municipalities have until the end of 2027 to get lead service lines replaced, and Samples says that will put the village’s utility department under significant stress: “They are talking about 3 years to go in and actually have these lines replaced. We really think there are possibly 300-400 of them in the village at the most. If you do the replacement over a three-year time period, it would 100 lines a year so that’s quite a few to get done.”

Samples says that the village has not received any portions of the first three rounds of funding from the Illinois EPA to help with lead line replacement. Another $6.5 million round of lead line replacement grants were announced by the Illinois EPA yesterday. Samples says they have a plan in place to determine whether the village will have to pay for a full replacement from the street into the water customer’s house: “First off, we are going to determine whether from our tap to the stop box needs replaced or not. That’s entirely upon the village. Then, we will have to go into a house and determine what they have. If it’s a copper line or PVC, they are good and no problem. We have a pretty good idea where some of the lead lines are because we have replaced antennas recently on water meters so we can read them remotely. We have an idea of what houses potentially do have lead or galvanized lines. They would have to be changed to copper or plastic.”

Samples says the first step is to look for the skid steer and small track hoe. They are looking at two different plans – one from John Deere and another from Caterpillar with the hopes of having a lease or rent to own plan. The Village Board of Trustees will vote on which of the two companies to go with after Brian English submits the proposals before the next village board meeting.