Durbin proposes lead pipe removal project

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — It doesn’t take much lead in the water supply to cause problems for children, but a huge number of Illinois water service lines are still made out of lead.

Senator Dick Durbin is pushing for the federal government to prioritize getting rid of those lines.
And he knows which ones he wants to start with.

“I think i can draw up a list of priorities. This hospital, other medical facilities schools, day care centers, places where large groups of people gather to work,” Durbin said.

Doctors are seeing less and less of the neurological issues caused by lead contamination in children.
But they definitely still see them. Dr. Doug Carlson at HSHS St. John’s in Springfield said the infrastructure changes are an easy way to make sure it doesn’t happen more.

“We don’t see that nearly as much. That’s good. But it’s made the epidemic silent, meaning that we have children with low but not acceptable levels, causing cognitive disorders of which screening and other things is important,” Carlson said.

Springfield already has plans to replace some service lines, but the head of city water light and power says they need federal money to complete the project.

“Really over the next two years, we plan on basically replacing 600 lines that are led right now. And then I’ll be we’ll have all licensed daycares that had led service lines as well replaced during the same time period,” Doug Brown, Chief Utility Engineer with CWLP, said.

Durbin’s bill relies heavily on infrastructure negotiations in D.C. He says its even a debate over whether water pipes fall under infrastructure, but it also isn’t just the pipes causing these problems.

“The bigger issue currently for we swim we see pockets of problems is decaying paint in older houses and infrastructure in the houses, lead lines are a big deal, we need to get rid of them,” Carlson said.

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