Some homeowners in Elgin received a letter in the mail this week, alerting them to potential elevated lead levels in their water.
Resident Rafael Arreguin (whose spouse works at NBC 5 Chicago) was one of those residents.
“They made it real clear that it’s not from the city’s supply itself, but it’s from our pipes,” he said.
Arreguin bought his house two years ago near Lin-Lor Lane and Jane Drive. He has an 8-year-old son at home, and says that the city informed him that the lead gradually seeped into the water entering homes over time.
“There’s no way that we could find out how lead got in there they said just overtime,” he said. “But nobody ever tells you when to check for that.”
The city made the discovery after conducting two-sample testing last year of nearly 200 homes that were built with lead plumbing fixtures, with the city saying it annually checks at least 200 homes that have lead pipes bringing water indoors.
In December, the city says that those tests came back showing that at least 26 homes had elevated levels of lead in the drinking water.
Arreguin says he plans to test his water in the coming days to get a better read on the issue.
“We have a filter for our water, but if there’s that much lead, is the filter even good enough?” he asked.
He’s now contemplating whether he should replace his lead water service line leading into the home. City officials say that homes most at risk were built before 1988.
“I have no idea how much it’s going to cost with how things are now,” he said. “I’m sure it’s not going to be cheap.”
As a precaution, the city is offering residents several recommendations, including the use of water filters, running drinking water for at least 5 minutes, or to potentially replace the lines.
“The city can only replace so much,” he said. “But yet you’re still left with the burden of covering the bill at the end of the day—that’s extra money and extra expenses nobody saw coming.”
In a press release, Elgin officials say said they have replaced hundreds of lead service lines over the years, and that approximately 850 lines are budgeted to be replaced in 2023.
The city launched a dashboard where residents can check to see if their property was impacted. The city has a free lead testing program for residents.