The village council took its first major step toward getting rid of the lead service lines, voting unanimously on June 13 to approve the sewer replacement contract for under the portion of Jackson Boulevard between Des Plaines Avenue and Madison Street.

The Illinois Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, which took effect at the start of 2022, requires Forest Park to replace all of its service lines by at least 2040. Because the village was already planning to repave this section of Jackson Boulevard, the village officials agreed to do this first. Village administrator Moses Amidei said that he expects the village to have a better sense of what other major water main related projects the village will undertake once its lead line replacement grant applications come back by the start of next year.

Under the act, all municipalities must prepare the full inventory of the lead lines by April 15, 2023. The inventory will determine just how quickly each municipality would be required to replace the sewer lines. Generally speaking, the more lead sewer lines there are, the more time they would get.

When doing major sewer projects, municipalities were already required to replace the lead lines up to the shut-off valve at the property line. Now that the Line Replacement Act took effect, they have to replace the pipes all the way up to the building itself.

According to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, as of 2020, the most recent year for which the data is available, Forest Park had 1,849 out of 3,434 sewer lines were lead lines. If the final total is more than 1,200 but less than 5,000, Forest Park would need to replace at least 6% of the pipes per year over no more than 17 years.

During the April 25 village council meeting, Amidei previously recommended holding off on water main projects for at least a year to give the village time to figure out how much state and federal funding it would be able to get to offset some of the costs. But he also recommended replacing the pipes at Jackson Boulevard because the village was already going to repave it – and delaying repavement by a year would result in the loss of the federal portion of the funding.

While Berwyn-based Clearview Sewer and Plumbing submitted the lowest bid of $96,355.65, Forest Park rejected it because it didn’t supply all the necessary documents and didn’t list some of the cost estimates. Instead, the village awarded the contract to the second-lowest bidder, Joel Kennedy Constructing Corp., of Chicago’s Sauganash neighborhood, who submitted a $112,500 bid.

During the June 13 meeting, Amidei lauded the vote as an important step forward.

“Thank you for [approving the contract],” he said. “That’s going to be the start of 20 years of efforts made by village to replace the lead service lines.”

Amidei reiterated that the village is looking to obtain as much grant funding as possible. He said that the village council should get a better sense of what kind of water main projects it would be able to do by early next year.

“In the coming months, and probably later in the year and early 2023, we’ll learn about [the results of] the applications to the state we’ve made to fund lead service replacement,” Amidei said. “That’s going to determine what we’re going to do from water main replacement standpoint, because any water main we touch, we’d have to do lead line replacement.”