Geneva aldermen recommend nearly $100K engineering contract for lead pipe replacement

City action tied to state law on replacing water service pipes

In this Wednesday, March 9, 2016 photo, city officials display an example of the lead pipes in Galesburg, Ill. An Associated Press analysis of federal data shows that nearly 1,400 water systems serving millions of Americans have exceeded the federal lead standard at least once during the last three years. In Galesburg, Ill., lead levels have exceeded the federal standard in 22 out of 30 testing periods since 1992. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

GENEVA – Geneva aldermen Monday recommended approving an engineering contract for $98,750 to replace about 900 lead and galvanized water pipes in the oldest part of the city.

The lead and galvanized pipes are connected to a 100-plus-year-old water main that needs to be replaced.

The City Council will take final action on the Committee of the Whole recommendation for the consulting contract with Hampton, Lenzini and Renwick Inc., Elgin.

The work is required to comply with the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, and the city must provide its plans to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said.

“We estimate there are approximately 900 lead and galvanized water services that will need to be replaced no later than 2027,” Dawkins said.

The cost will be paid within the existing budget and could require a future budget adjustment, officials said.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes and brass or bronze faucets and fixtures.

“EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood,” according to the epa.gov website. “Taking action to reduce these exposures can improve outcomes. Lead is harmful to health, especially for children.”

Superintendent of Water and Wastewater Bob VanGyseghem said the city has replaced about 80 to 85 lead service lines over the past 2 1/2 years in a reimbursement program.

The program allows homeowners to be reimbursed up to $6,500 for a low-bid contractor to replace lead or galvanized water service, according to the city’s website, www.geneva.il.us.

“The ones we are going to concentrate on replacing through the program is where the water main is at least 100 years old, which is a lot in the downtown area,” VanGyseghem said.

The department needs the assistance of the engineering consultant for the submissions to the IEPA beyond just stating how many pipes are going to be replaced, VanGyseghem said.

“You have to come up with a plan to show how we’re going to pay for it. There’s a lot of administration details that need to be included in the plan,” VanGyseghem said. “It probably would have been difficult for me to do that on my own without a consultant.”

Radal Newkirk, the company’s design engineering manager and a Geneva resident, said “the city is on the leading edge of municipalities that are going after funding for this.”

“One of the programs we’re going to be putting together is for the lead service replacement and that is kind of how the EPA is giving funds out to communities in the loan forgiveness part of it to replace these lead service lines,” Newkirk said. “The sooner we are in line for this, the better off we are for getting fully funded for that.”

Newkirk said other communities already have gone through the process and were successful in getting reimbursement.

“I do feel like we are out ahead of this,” Newkirk said.

First Ward Alderman Michal Bruno asked if the city was only working on the replacements for residents who filed requests for the work.

VanGyseghem said they’ve been identifying pipes to be replaced as they have replaced water meters since 2011.

“We have knowledge of 80% to 90% of the properties in Geneva that have lead services,” VanGyseghem said.

“The only time that we have it mandatory is when we have a leak on the service line. And based on the rules that the IEPA has that the governor signed into law, that service has to be replaced,” VanGyseghem said.

As to whether the city will be able to keep up with the timing requirements, city attorney Ron Sandack said municipalities will be required to abide by the timing.

“It would not surprise me if there are extensions,” Sandack said. “But I think that every community has to make a good faith effort to comply. I would recommend that we do everything we can to comply.”

The list of streets to be addressed for water service line replacement is included in the Committee of the Whole agenda packet at www.geneva.il.us.