What Are Lead Service Lines?
The Village of Brookfield receives drinking water from Lake Michigan and pumps it to residents through the Village’s water distribution system. Here is an example of how your home’s water service line connects to the Village’s water mains:
To ensure safe drinking water in the United States, federal regulations have guided intervention and regulatory efforts to successfully reduce exposure to water contaminants. Public health advocates and agencies have researched the negative impacts of lead exposure in drinking water. Both the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) and Lead and Copper Rule (1991) implemented restrictions to control lead in drinking water. Now, recent State of Illinois regulations require the Village to make an inventory of and develop a replacement program for lead water services lines owned by the Village and private property owners.
Although Brookfield’s water meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead level requirements, some of the pipes that connect older homes to the Village’s water system are made from lead. Lead service lines are a health concern because they can be a source of lead in tap water. Lead can be harmful to humans when ingested or inhaled and has been shown to cause delays in physical and mental development. Lead enters drinking water primarily because of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in private water services lines and household plumbing.
Lead Service Line Replacement Program
The Village of Brookfield is committed to maintaining its public services through safe practices and proper equipment. As part of this commitment and in response to the State of Illinois’ Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, the Village is implementing its Lead Service Line Replacement Program to identify and replace lead service lines in our community.
Throughout the process of Brookfield’s Meter Transmission Unit Replacement Project, we will be obtaining lead service information through our upgrade program. Following the completion of the lead service line inventory, the Village will develop a comprehensive lead service line replacement program. This program will create a prioritized schedule to replace lead service lines. The Village intends to apply for significant state and/or federal funding to offset the cost of private lead service line replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is lead?
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead can be found in air, soil, dust, food, and water.
What is the source of lead?
Lead is NOT present in Brookfield’s source water (groundwater), nor is lead in Brookfield’s treated drinking water. However, lead can enter drinking water through the corrosion of plumbing materials, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures.
Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. However, newer homes may also be at risk because legally “lead free” plumbing may contain up to 8% lead.
In January 2014, changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act further reduced the maximum allowable lead content of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fixtures and fittings to 0.25%. Brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder are the most common source from which lead can enter the water, especially hot water.
What is corrosion?
Corrosion is the dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. The extent to which lead enters your water by this process depends on a number of factors. These factors include the water chemistry, the amount of lead the water comes in contact with, the length of time that the water sits in household plumbing materials and the presence of protective scales or coatings inside the plumbing materials.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addressed the corrosion of lead and copper into drinking water by issuing the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). This was issued under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The LCR requires that community water supplies use corrosion control treatment to prevent lead and copper from entering drinking water.
How is corrosion controlled?
The water supplied to the Village of Brookfield uses several chemicals in the purification and treatment of water. Chlorine is used to disinfect the water. Aluminum Sulfate or Alum and Polymer is used for coagulation to settle out impurities. Blended Polyphosphate is used to coat pipes and prevent lead leaching.
How can I be exposed to lead?
The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead- contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in American youth.
Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, lead also can be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency states that lead pipes are more likely to be found in older homes built before Congress enacted lead-reduction requirements as part of Safe Drinking Water Act amendments in 1986. As a result, homes built in or after 1986 are far less likely to have lead pipes.
Does Brookfield’s water have lead in it?
To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the EPA has regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. As a result, the Village of Brookfield regularly tests its water for lead, bacteria, and other regulated contaminants. The Village can report that no lead contaminant level violations were recorded during 2021.
How do I know if I have lead in my water?
First, test to see if your home has a lead service line by following these instructions. If you have lead pipes, or if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water), you may want to have your water tested. Testing is the only way to confirm if lead is present or absent because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in water. You can test your water using an at-home test kit or for more accurate results, ordering a test kit from a state-certified laboratory.
The cost for testing can range between $20 and $100 and specific steps are required to draw an accurate sample. Contact information for several of the labs near the area are provided below.
Suburban Laboratories, Inc.
1950 S. Batavia Ave Ste 150
Geneva, IL 60134
First Environmental Laboratories, Inc.
1600 Shore Road, Suite D
Naperville, IL 60563
ARRO Laboratory, Inc.
P.O. Box 686
Joliet, IL 60434-0686
To obtain a booklet of qualified laboratories, call the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Laboratories at 217-782-6455 or visit the IEPA website to view accredited laboratories.
If I have a lead service line, how can I reduce my exposure to lead in my drinking water?
The best step you can take is to have your home’s lead service lines replaced. However, you can take action to reduce the amount of lead in your drinking water and minimize your potential for exposure by following the below recommendations from the American Water Works Association:
- Run your water to flush out If water hasn’t been used for several hours, run the water for three to five minutes to clear most of the lead from the water.
- Always use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby Never cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Never use water from the hot water tap to make formula.
- Do not boil water to remove Boiling water will not reduce lead.
- Periodically remove and clean the faucet screen/aerator. While removed, run the water to eliminate debris.
- You may consider investing in a home water treatment device or alternative water When purchasing a water treatment device, make sure it is certified under NSF/ANSI 53 to remove lead.
- Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing Brass faucets, fittings, and valves may leach lead into drinking water. Products sold after January 2014 must by law contain very low levels of lead.
- Have a licensed electrician check your Your home electrical system may be attached to your service line or elsewhere in your plumbing. If this connection is electrified, it can accelerate corrosion. Check with a licensed electrician to correct ground faults and evaluate your local electric code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. DO NOT attempt to change the wiring yourself because improper bonding or grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.
Should I test my children for exposure to lead?
Children at risk of exposure to lead should be tested. Your doctor or local health center can perform a simple blood test to determine your child’s blood-lead level.
Will the Village replace my lead service line?
Lead service lines on a resident’s private property are not part of the public water system and are the responsibility of the property owner. Lead service lines are owned and replaced at the expense of the property owner. Due to the anticipation that most homes in Brookfield having lead water service, the Village Board has agreed that the Village will be responsible for both the public and the private portion of lead water service line replacements that are done as part of the Village’s Water Main Replacement Program. This decision was partly based on it allowing the Village to equitably distribute any grant funds that it obtains for lead water service replacement.
The Village of Brookfield encourages the full replacement of lead service lines on both public and private property. Property owners interested in replacing a lead service line outside of the replacement program, can work with the Water Division to replace the entire service line from water main to meter. If a property owner meets specific requirements and agrees to pay for the service line replacement on private property, the Village will coordinate and replace the portion in the public space at the same time.
If you need emergency work on your water service, the Village strongly encourages you to contact a licensed plumber for this work. Prior to any plumbing work, please contact the Village’s Building Department at 708.485.7344 x 3 to inquire if a building permit is required.