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Community Advocacy Organization

Senator Mike Simmons secures $1 million in funding to replace lead pipes in underserved communities



Illinois State Senator Mike Simmons announced that he has secured $1 million in state funding to replace lead pipes in South Evanston; this is an effort to further address ongoing issues concerning public health inequities in disenfranchised communities.


Simmons (D-Chicago) said, “For too long, lead in our drinking water has exposed our neighbors to adverse health effects, further building on the inequities our communities face. We have to get focused on this, we can’t make any excuses when it comes to lead pipes."


“This funding provides long overdue resources to address a problem that is systemic in nature, is decades in the making, and often does the most damage to Black and Brown communities like those who call South Evanston home.”


Joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Evanston’s 8th Ward Alderman Devon Reid for the announcement, Simmons is gaining support from constituents who also back his mission as some residents in the Chicago-area have been waiting for nearly 2 years to get their lead pipes replaced. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health there were almost 680,000 reported community lead service lines in the Illinois water systems in 2019. In Evanston alone, there are still nearly 11,500 that need to be addressed.


The city of Chicago has more lead lines than any other in the country. The city continued installing as late as the 1980s, well after the harsh effects of the metal on humans were well known across the United States.


The City of Evanston Lead Service Line Replacement program was created to remove lead contaminated water service lines with prioritization in low-to-moderate income areas.


Currently, priority is focused on the completion of the partial lead service line replacements due to the increased likelihood of lead exposure.


“Public health issues are among my highest priorities — both in terms of access to health care, but also that the environments that surround our households and communities are safe,” said Simmons. “I am happy we are able to take this step forward with a significant amount of resources, and multiple elected officials prioritizing this for south Evanston.”


For reference, according to Health State of Minnesota, here are some health issues that concerning lead pipes:


Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body.


The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children.


Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead can be stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother's bones, which may affect brain development.



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