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Sycamore step closer to securing funding for lead water line replacements, council told

SYCAMORE – The City of Sycamore may be one step closer to getting funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a proposed city lead water service replacement project.

Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said during the Monday public hearing at the City Council meeting the city has identified 150 existing service lines that run from public mains to private homes and the proposed project is meant to help replace those existing lead service lines as a preventative measure against lead exposure. He said city officials have taken several steps forward in the application process since first proposing the funding idea, which is a forgivable loan from the state agency, in February.

“We have yet to officially receive word that we received the grant, or have secured the forgivable loan funds, but this public hearing is part of that process,” Gregory said.

Gregory said no one sent written comment to city officials ahead of the Monday meeting. No one provided public comment during the virtual meeting.

Gregory said the City Council previously approved preliminary engineering plans for the project. He also reiterated that private residents are responsible for repairs of those lead service lines.

“However, with this program – which we applied for roughly just under $1 million – we are hoping to assist residents in replacing those water service lines,” Gregory said.

Gregory said it’s unclear when exactly the city will be notified of a decision one way or another. He said the city is hopeful they will receive notice from IEPA in late spring so they can go out for bid on the project in the summer.

“If everything worked out, we would have construction start in the fall,” Gregory said.

The city also held the public hearing in an effort to get IEPA funding for a radium removal project during the Monday meeting. City officials wrote the proposed lead water service replacement and the radium removal projects are independent projects.

Well No. 7 is located in the Electric Park subdivision and was previously taken offline due to increasing radium levels within the raw water. That second project includes a proposed radium removal system similar to those installed at four other city wells, city officials wrote.

Both lead service line replacement and radium removal improvements were addressed within the city’s Water Master Plan completed in December 2019.

The update comes after Sycamore residents filed a class action lawsuit against the city in October on several counts, including fraud, deceptive business, negligence and public nuisance. The filing followed months of public outcry over concerns about water quality.

According to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois documents, U.S. Court Judge Franklin U. Valderrama authorized on Wednesday for the City of Sycamore to file its answer to the Oct. 30 complaint filed by Sycamore residents Jennifer Campbell and Jeremy Pennington and their lawyers on or before Dec. 22.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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