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Federal funding gives Monmouth a jumpstart on lead pipe removal

Congressman Eric Sorensen (left) presented Mayor Rod Davies with the check during an event at the Monmouth Water Treatment Plant.
Karli Strom
Congressman Eric Sorensen (left) presented Mayor Rod Davies with the check during an event at the Monmouth Water Treatment Plant.

Monmouth is embarking on a 10-year, $10 million program to remove all the lead water service lines in the community.

Democratic Congressman Eric Sorensen paid a visit to the city’s water treatment plant to help jumpstart the program by presenting a ceremonial check worth nearly $960,000.

Sorensen said infrastructure repairs are needed to more than nation’s roads and bridges – work is also needed on the infrastructure that’s underground. And he said many of the workers who will replace the aging underground infrastructure are members of local communities.

“These are workers that live in our neighborhoods. It’s going to pay their salaries. And then they’re going to go to the grocery store here. So this is money that’s going to stay in this district and in this community,” he said.

Sorensen has been making similar announcements in other communities in his district. He said even though he’s in the minority party in the House, he got the funding through Congress because concerns about clean water are universal.

“That’s why we were able to get all of these pieces of funding through Congress -- in this divided Congress. This is actually, I think, a glimmer of hope that things can work,” Sorensen said.

He said he hopes this is just the first time he gets to meet with Monmouth leaders to give them a check for replacing lead pipes.

City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher feels the same way. He said Monmouth will keep seeking federal and state grants to help pay for the work and lessen the cost for the local community.

“It’s going to help a lot of people in town and help relieve some of the anxiety about the presences of lead lines,” he said.

Steinbrecher said they’ve determined that schools and healthcare facilities have already their lead lines, so the city will focus elsewhere with this grant funding.

“We will be primarily targeting single-family homes at this point, and the concentration of lead lines will most likely be in the south end of town where the older homes exist and the lead lines exist,” Steinbrecher said.

The city estimates it has 2,000 lead water service lines still in use.

Steinbrecher said the city has estimated it could take ten years and cost an estimated $10 million to replace all of them.

He said despite the presence of the pipes, testing has shown the city still remains well below the federal threshold for lead contamination.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from 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.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.