Lead Service Lines: What Your Community Should Know

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now requiring municipalities and water service providers to inventory their service line materials.

In an effort to protect public health and reduce exposure to lead in drinking water, inventories must be completed and available to the public by October 16, 2024. 

Service lines are the pipes between the water mains and the main plumbing shut-off valve inside the foundation walls of homes and are constructed of lead, galvanized steel, copper or plastic. As of 1986, the use of lead for water piping is banned by the EPA due to the harmful effects of lead exposure. 

Harmful Effects of Lead

Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful to your health, even at low exposure levels. Lead can enter drinking water by leaching from pipe surfaces.

Children are especially vulnerable to lead—the physical and behavioral effects occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. Even low levels of lead in the blood can result in problems with behavior, learning and physical effects, and in rare cases could lead to death. 

The harmful effects in adults can include decreased cardiovascular and kidney function, and issues with reproduction. Lead can also have serious effects in pregnant women, including reduced growth of the fetus or premature birth.

Funding Assistance for Replacement

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and State Revolving Loan Fund are providing financing and potential loan forgiveness to communities throughout the state to replace service lines comprised of lead and certain galvanized steel. One of those communities receiving loan forgiveness is the City of Galena in northwest Illinois. Origin Design has partnered with the City to identify and replace a large portion of those identified service lines in their water distribution system. Approximately 300 service lines will be replaced in the first phase of construction.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and State Revolving Loan Fund are also implementing a new financing program to help communities replace service lines in their distribution systems. The State of Iowa’s program is utilizing Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Bill funds from the federal government to provide low interest loans, as well as providing loan forgiveness to qualifying disadvantaged communities. One community taking advantage of this program is the City of Dubuque. Origin Design has partnered with the City to develop replacement plans for approximately 5,000 lines.


Does your community need assistance in determining if your drinking water is safe from lead exposure? Origin can assist you to both inventory your lead service lines and apply for grant assistance.


As a Civil Engineer and Project Manager on Origin Design's Municipal Team, Chris regularly designs streets and utilities. He has also worked with City Administrators and Public Works Directors on various types of projects throughout his career, and he takes great pride in the relationships he has built.

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