City has removed just 60 low-income lead lines in 20 months
Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently announced the city would be canning and distributing local drinking water under the name Chicagwa.
- "From the beginning of my administration, I've made it a priority to ensure that every resident has access to high-quality drinking water," Lightfoot said as part of the launch.
Why it matters: Back in September 2020, Lightfoot's water department said it would be using $15 million in federal funds to remove 400 to 800 lead service lines a year from low-income households for free.
- Instead, the city has removed just 60 in the last 20 months, water department spokesperson Megan Vidis tells Axios.
- The remaining lead pipes are potentially tainting the drinking water of more than 400,000 homes.
The culprit: In the past, Chicago water officials have attributed this slow pace to their inability to find a contractor for the job.
- Water commissioner Andrea Cheng blames logistical problems, while Vidis simply hasn't responded to our questions about why the city has performed only 60 low-income replacements.
- Vidis would also not disclose the neighborhoods where the replacements were performed, claiming it would violate homeowner privacy.
What's next: Axios has filed a FOIA request for documents to prove the city has actually removed those lines.
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