Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Galesburg gets the lead out

Dustin Nelson, a worker with JC Dillon Inc., works on replacing the last lead water service line in Galesburg.
Eleanor Lindenmayer
Tri States Public Radio
Dustin Nelson, a worker with JC Dillon Inc., works on replacing the last lead water service line in Galesburg.

The city is celebrating the replacement of its last lead water service line.

Contractors and Galesburg city leaders gathered Friday on a brick street to celebrate the end of a six-year project that was mostly underground.

The celebration was in honor of replacing the very last lead service line in the city, in the 1300 block of North Kellogg Street.

“This is the last of three thousand,” said Michael Doi, Public Works Director. “This is a significant achievement for Galesburg that increases the health and well-being of our citizens.”

Doi said the city has replaced around 500 per year. The work was done in six phases, dating back to 2017, with each phase funded by a $2 million forgivable loan from the Illinois EPA.

The work began after samples from 2015 showed higher lead levels in Galesburg water than what the federal government considered safe.

The city then changed the amount of an additive used in drinking water and started replacing lead service lines.

Maintenance of water service lines typically falls on homeowners. But with the $12 million in state funds, all of Galesburg’s lead service lines were replaced at no cost to residents.

And it was no small undertaking. Each replacement takes up to a couple hours.

“So what they do is, they excavate at the main. Then they go into the house and they basically push a PVC pipe through and connect that to the main, and that way it’s totally safe,” Doi said.

Bruner, Cooper, and Zuck Inc. provided bidding and inspection for all phases of the project, while Peoria-based JC Dillon Inc. was the contractor.

John Dillon, superintendent for JC Dillon, has been on the job in Galesburg since the start of the project.

He told TSPR replacing all the lead water service lines in Galesburg has been a journey.

“We’ve been throughout the whole city, from the north side to the south side. It’s been a learning experience but we got a good crew together and a good process together where we’ve been able to get through the city pretty fast.”

While Galesburg has completed its project, the Illinois EPA says there are still nearly around 670,000 lead water service lines remaining in other communities across the state.

Lead is toxic and especially harmful to children under the age of six.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.