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Genoa seeks resident participation as city compiles inventory of lead water service lines

GENOA - The city of Genoa is creating an inventory of residential water service lines in an effort to identify how many are lined with lead and need to be replaced.

Alyssa Seguss, Genoa city administrator said the city is still in the inventory stage, working to determine how many and where the lead service lines are throughout Genoa.

Residents should be on alert for a potential visit from the Genoa Public Works Department, who’s staff is going door to door to examine lines servicing area homes.

According to a Tuesday Facebook post by the city of Genoa, Public Works employees will have ID badges, drive a city vehicle and wear a city of Genoa Public Works uniform. The social media post also stated that residents can call to verify the person knocking.

This week, the focus is on addresses in the area north of Route 72, according to the city’s post. Access to the inside of a home is necessary for public works employees to discern the material used in the service line. However, residents should note a visit will only take a handful of minutes.

Among those going door to door is the Public Work’s Water Department Supervisor, Paul Naugle. He and two others are working through the end of the week to create the inventory. Naugle said lead service line replacement has been on the horizon for the department for the past two years.

“We knew this day was coming sooner or later,” said Naugle.

During the past two years, Genoa water department staff built a list service line materials anytime the department was called out to a property, Naugle said. Facing around 1,000 lines to check, Naugle’s department has systemically lowered that number down to about 350.

Of the more than 600 lines that have been checked, as of July 12, 83 have been found to contain lead, Naugle said.

“[The department has been] trying to get this done as efficiently as possible when we have time to do it,” Naugle said about the replacement program.

The Illinois Lead Service Line Notification and Replacement act, which went into effect Aug. 30, 2021, requires Illinois water systems to begin removal of lead service lines no later than Jan. 1, 2027. The legislation was penned to minimize potential lead exposure caused by contaminated drinking water and aging pipe infrastructure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any amount of lead exposure can be damaging to a person’s brain.

Neighboring communities of DeKalb and Sycamore are also undertaking lead service line replacement, organized by city leaders.

Naugle noted the effort to identify lead service lines will end after this week. With three days left, he’s optimistic the majority of lines will be checked.

“If each guy gets 20 or so a day, that’s 60,” Naugle said. “I’m hoping by the end of the week we’ll get one hundred or so.”

What happens if a Genoa resident’s home has a lead-lined water service?

“The city does treat its water so that it does not infiltrate the water, like you know, everyone is worried about Flint, Michigan,” Naugle said.

If residents aren’t home when a Genoa public works staffer comes calling, they should look out for a letter in the mail, according to the city of Genoa’s Facebook post. Residents can schedule an inspection at a later date if no contact is made. They can also direct message Genoa’s Facebook page with their address and phone number and a public works employee will reach out to schedule a visit.

Once the inventory has been compiled, the city will seek a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. In Sycamore, lead service line replacement is being funded in part through a $1.6 million grant to help pay for replacement costs. In DeKalb, city leaders proposed $1 million in COVID-19 relief money for service line replacement.

“Our next step is working with our engineering team to prepare a submittal for a future funding cycle through the IEPA,” wrote Seguss.

Seguss says city staff aren’t able to estimate the full cost of the project yet without knowing exactly how many service lines need to be replaced.