City of Galesburg Officials Share Views With Representative Cheri Bustos Regarding Lead Concerns

May 3, 2016 09:13 AM
The City of Galesburg today announced that Mayor John Pritchard and other city officials shared views with Cheri Bustos, Member of United States Congress representing the 17th District of Illinois, during a conference call held on Monday, May 2. Mayor Prichard expressed to Representative Bustos that the Galesburg city government was at common purpose with her, relating to efforts to reduce the elevated lead levels found among Galesburg citizens, and taking measures to do so on a sustained basis.
The mayor also expressed the City’s appreciation for her offers of assistance, updated her on the engagement between the city and several of the resources she has identified, and programs now in place that provide free water testing and free water filters to residents. The mayor went on to request that Representative Bustos invite one or more Galesburg officials to be an active member of the "Lead Contamination Watchdog Task Force" she established late last month. 
The mayor reiterated the City’s position that the Galesburg City Water System is completely lead-free from its source to the point of connection with residential service lines, and that the sources of lead contamination are their service lines and internal plumbing for water, and deteriorating lead paint elsewhere in their homes. However, to fully allay any concerns about the system itself, the City outlined plans for an in-depth, third-party inspection and certification to fully assure residents of its lead-free status, and enable greater focus on the source(s) of actual contamination.
City officials emphasized that more work needs to be done to more clearly identify the specific sources of contamination including, but not limited to their water, and the effects on citizens of all ages in order to develop the most effective permanent solutions. The City requested Representative Bustos’ assistance in identifying other cities who have confronted similar situations, so that their solutions can be weighed as potential options for Galesburg. Elevated lead levels among some in the population is a local, regional and national issue. Galesburg seeks to collaborate at all levels of government, as well as with the academic research community and private sector to develop short term and long term solutions. Galesburg wants to be a model solution to help guide other cities and towns facing this situation. 
Representative Bustos received a report on recently concluded biannual water tests conducted in accordance with EPA regulations. Out of 30 locations tested by the City and the EPA, only two exceeded recommended lead levels, a reduction which the City believes is attributable to the increase in corrosion inhibitors added to the City water supply starting in January.
The mayor emphasized that the costs to fully address the broad based problem of lead contamination in residential water service lines will be high and cities and towns large and small will require various forms of financial assistance to fully address the problem. City officials explained to Representative Bustos that its initial estimate for addressing the over 4,700 lead service lines in the City is approximately $10 million and would take over 10 years to implement, and that prior to undertaking such a major financial commitment, the City government will need to provide taxpayers with reasonable assurance that this initiative would substantially solve the problem of lead exposure. City officials emphasized that while they recognize the importance of protecting its citizens from unsafe lead exposure, it believes careful analysis and planning of this proposed solution is its inescapable responsibility to Galesburg citizens. The mayor concluded by stating the City’s commitment to finding and implementing solutions that address the public health concerns of our citizens, as well as their concerns about rising property taxes and necessary public utility services. 
The mayor also asked Representative Bustos’ assistance in helping to quell the negative publicity unfairly and inaccurately being leveled upon Galesburg, as it is detrimental to the local economy. Representative Bustos will be meeting with members of the Galesburg area business community later this week to discuss this and related economic development matters.


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