Galesburg has completed the latest round of testing for the presence of lead in drinking water. The city said the results show its prevention efforts are working.
A news report in 2016 placed the city’s water supply under a microscope. The report said water samples taken the previous year had higher lead levels than what the federal government considered safe.
Public Works Director Wayne Carl said the latest tests were done at 30 homes with lead service lines. A service line connects a home to the city’s water main.
Carl said the federal government considers an unsafe level of lead to be 15 parts per billion (PPB).
“Our highest value this year was 7.4 PPB,” said Carl. “The previous year it was 13 PPB so we are making headway.”
Carl said the city is seeing improvements for a couple of reasons.
One occurred in 2016 when the city changed the amount of an additive used in drinking water.
“We ended up putting a lot more orthophosphate corrosion inhibitor product in our water to help coat the lines better,” said Carl. “We have always put corrosion inhibitor in our lines but it needed to be increased from what it was before so we increased that level.”
The city is also replacing lead service lines.
Carl said the state of Illinois provided Galesburg with a $4 million dollar forgivable loan soon after the problems with lead in the drinking water came to light. He said that money has already been used to replace more than 1,000 lead service lines.
He said another 500 lead services lines are being replaced this year thanks to another $2 million forgivable loan from the state.
“After this year’s project, we estimate we will still have about 1,500 active lead service lines,” said Carl. “These are privately owned by the residents, but we are able to use the grant dollars to replace these lines all the way into their homes to their meter.”
Carl says Galesburg will apply for additional state funding to replace the remaining 1,500 lead service lines.