Chicago's lagging lead line removal is set to get more infrastructure cash
Local leaders flew to D.C. Monday to celebrate the new infrastructure bill, which is filled with lots of goodies for Chicago and Illinois.
- Among them: $1.7 billion for lead service line removal in Illinois — about a third of the original ask, but still hefty.
Why it matters: With about 1 million toxic lead lines hooked up to Illinois homes (and 400k in Chicago alone), this could go a long way to removing brain-damaging lead from the water.
Yes, but: Chicago has barely used the $15 million in federal block grants it got a year ago to remove lead lines.
- Lightfoot's plan set out to remove 600 lines the first year, but instead the city removed 12.
- This makes environmental advocates worry that Chicago needs more than money to finally solve the problem.
What they're saying: "[We need] political will to prioritize lead removal in a meaningful and timely way," Jeremy Orr of the Natural Resources Defense Council told WBEZ last week.
- "It's an urgent [issue] ... that's impacting people's health every day."
The other side: Chicago water department officials told Axios last month that the slow pace of removal stems from not having chosen a contractor to do the work.
- Progress update: Axios checked back in with water officials to ask about progress and we got no response.
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