The village of Brookfield amended its funding policy to replace private lead water service lines in the village over the next 17 years, starting in 2027. The project is expected to cost at least $28 million and must be undertaken by the village to comply with a 2022 state law mandating the replacement of all lead water service lines in Illinois.

Last month, Village Engineer Derek Treichel told the village board that fewer lines would need replacement, cutting down costs to about $24 million. 

With updated information – and confirmation that the state of Illinois no longer offers forgivable loans – the village board amended its lead line replacement policy at the Aug. 28 board meeting. The board approved the policy by a vote of 5-0. Village Trustee Julie Narimatsu abstained. 

To fund the replacement of 3,200 private lines, the village will seek zero-to-low interest loans from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. A portion of water rates established to fund this program – which residents have paid for since it was established in July 2022 – will be used to pay back the loans, if the village receives them. 

Though the policy establishes the start of the replacement of lead lines as 2027, the village could start the replacement of about 60 leaking lead lines as soon as this year. The replacement will be paid for with $800,000 already generated by increased water rates. 

Village Manager Tim Wiberg said the village has started discussions on how it will prioritize and schedule the replacement of water service lead lines. After replacing leaking lead lines, the village could reimburse property owners who replaced private service lines after July 1, 2023 and start the replacement of lines requested by property owners. 

“With our current water rate infrastructure, we can replace 250 lead lines, proactively, a year,” Wiberg said.

The village is yet to determine how lead replacements will be scheduled. It appears the village will be able to schedule individual requests in the order they are received, rather than scheduling them by block or groups, an idea previously explored by the village board. Village staff analysis showed that such a strategy would not yield significant cost reductions, Wiberg said, but a final plan is yet to be determined. 

The village is responsible for funding the replacement of private lead lines in the following cases. 

  • A private lead line is connected to a water main being replaced by the village.
  • A property owner requests the replacement of a private service lead line.

Property owners who replaced a private service line, at their own expense after July 1, 2022 will be reimbursed. 

Annually, village staff will review water rates to determine if they are adequate to fund the program. If changes to water rates are required, staff will bring them to the village board for consideration. Last month, Treichel said the village may need to adjust water rates in 2027 based on current prices and interest rates.