CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago plans to begin paying to replace old lead pipes connecting the water to some people’s homes and installing meters on those old lines to measure usage.
This comes as a relieve for some homeowners, but others who have been overcharged for water asking where their relief is.
Several homes in the Beverly neighborhood are more than 100 years old, and so is their infrastructure, so Thursday’s announcement was a long time coming. But it is unclear how much the city assistance will help at this point.
Kathy Zook knows the way her home gets water needs to change. The old lead service lines connecting city water to the sink need replacing, and she needs a more dependable way to measure how much water she uses. Some older homes like hers do not have meters.
CBS 2 has previously spoken with Zook and several others in our investigative series “Getting Hosed.”
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Over the last six years she has seen her wallet spring an exponential leak as a result of what she describes as wishy washy water accounting.
“The water bill initially doubled in price,” she said. “My overcharge has been to the tune of $8,000 over the years.”
“I’m not familiar with any overcharges,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “But it’s way past time for us as a city to address the issue.”
“She has good intentions on making things right,” said Zook. “She pretty much inherited this problem.”
Lightfoot announced a volunteer program aimed at approximately 380,000 lead lead service lines throughout Chicago’s homes. The total cost to replace is in the billions, beginning with $15 million in Block Grants.
Chicago is slated to provide complete replacement and water meters for some low income households.
For homeowners like Zook the city will offer to wave permit fees for the removal and install a meter — a savings of up to about $3,000, but the homeowner will need to hire a contractor for the removal. That can cost thousands of dollars. That would be on top of what Zook is spending on what she describes as wayward water bills per month.
“I’m paying five times what some of the neighbors are paying,” she said.
“The water department has plenty of resources to address those issues,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said they will seek state and federal funds in this process, but there was no timeline on how long that would take. The plans do need city council approval. If that happens the application process will begin in the fall.