On July 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a community roundtable with organizers representing Chicago, Illinois, to highlight the experience of local communities with lead in drinking water. This roundtable discussion is one of ten being held with communities across the country. The roundtables are essential to informing EPA’s review of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) revisions to ensure that the rule is grounded in the lived experience of individuals and communities that are most at-risk of exposure to lead in drinking water.
“I want to thank Senator Durbin and the community groups that organized this roundtable for sharing their perspective and experiences with EPA,” said Elizabeth Cisar, senior advisor for EPA’s Office of Water. “Chicago has strong community leaders on this issue and EPA is committed to supporting their work to reduce lead exposure and better protect the health of every Chicagoan.”
“With more lead service lines than any other state, millions of Illinoisans risk exposure to lead from drinking water. A key part of fixing this problem is the reason for today’s discussion: improving the Lead and Copper Rule,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “Not only do we need to update the rules, we need to fund the fixes, the upgrades, the pipe replacements—all the pieces necessary to guarantee safe and reliable water for Illinoisans. I look forward to working together to improve the Lead and Copper Rule, replace Illinois’ lead service lines, and safeguard the health of all Illinoisans for generations to come.”
“As we continue our commitment to modernize Illinois’ water infrastructure and invest in lead service line replacement projects, we are doing so with an eye on the future,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This community roundtable is a critical next step to better understand the interests and needs of our local communities to minimize the risk of lead exposure from drinking water. I thank the Biden administration, Senator Durbin, and the community groups who spearheaded this effort. By continuing to work collaboratively with federal and local government as well as community stakeholders, Illinois will be able to repair, redesign, and modernize our water infrastructure, ensuring every community across the state has access to clean drinking water.”
“Here in Chicago, we not only pride ourselves on having the cleanest water around but also working tirelessly to provide our residents with safe and accessible water in the most equitable way,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Citywide initiatives like the Lead Service Line Replacement program, coupled with revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule, will help us make significant progress in our mission to protect our residents’ health and wellbeing. I want to thank the EPA, the Biden Administration and everyone who participated in this roundtable for also committing to this mission and I look forward to working that much closer with them to bring all of our residents the high-quality water they deserve.”
“With nearly 400,000 lead service lines in Chicago alone, a strong Lead and Copper Rule is uniquely important for protecting Chicagoan’s drinking water,” said Illinois Environmental Council Clean Water Policy Director Iyana Simba. “To solve this public health crisis, communities must be consulted and trust the process, which is why the Illinois Environmental Council and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization appreciates the EPA for hosting this roundtable.”
Roundtable participants included U.S. Senator Dick Durbin; the office of Mayor Lori Lightfoot; officials with the State of Illinois and City of Chicago; Elevate; Illinois Environmental Council, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; the NAACP; Sierra Club; and others.
Additional information on the virtual roundtable, including how to watch a recording, is available at: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/lead-and-copper-rule-revisions-virtual-engagements.
Lead can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including decreasing IQ, focus, and academic achievement. EPA is committed to following the best science to address lead in the nation’s drinking water and will take the appropriate time to review the LCR Revisions and make sure communities that have been impacted the most are protected. In March of this year, EPA announced an extension of the effective date of the Revised Lead and Copper Rule so that the agency could seek further public input on the rule. The agency hosted virtual public listening sessions on April 28, 2021, and May 5, 2021. On May 26, 2021, EPA announced the ten communities that were selected for virtual roundtable discussions on EPA’s LCR Revisions. Members of the public may also submit comments via the docket at: http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0255 until July 30, 2021.