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Lead Service Lines: Learn & Act!

Following the 2014 Flint, Michigan crisis, concerns about lead contamination of water have received a lot of publicity and spawned legislation at the state and federal level.  Numerous new legislations are in place to minimize or eliminate the exposure of lead. The below summary provides actions that can be taken by residents and also includes information on the City’s cost-share program to assist residents with replacing of lead service line.

A water service line has two components: the public service line and the private service line. Over the decades these service lines were made from various metals:
  • Lead – roughly prior to 1940
  • Galvanized Iron – 1940 to 1970
  • Copper -- after 1970.
Prior to the 1986 federal ban, copper pipes were joined with solder containing lead and until banned in 2014, faucets were cast from brass containing a small percentage of lead.  In 1991, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) enacted the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) which requires water utilities such as the City of Highland Park to employ corrosion control in the water treatment system and to monitor the treatment’s effectiveness by sampling from homes which still have lead-bearing plumbing. In 2021, USEPA revised the LCR and Illinois enacted companion rules intended to eliminate all lead service lines over a period of time.

Over the years many of the older service lines have been replaced.  Service line ownership is shared.  The public service line, owned and maintained by the City, is the service line that runs from the watermain to the water meter pit or buffalo-box (b-box) or shut-off valve within the City parkway/right-of-way. And the private service line, owned and maintained by property owners, is the service line that runs from the water meter pit or b-box or shut-off valve to the house. The water meter pit, typically located in the parkway/right of way houses the water meter and the shut-off valve.  The image below illustrates the public and private service lines.

Service Lines

Please see below for an FAQ. For more details on lead service lines, general information about lead in drinking water, and other pertinent information, please visit  for a detailed FAQ.

  1. What is lead and what are the health effects?
    Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is harmful to human health, especially to young children. The most common exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust. However, lead in drinking water can also be a source of lead exposure. In the past, lead was used in some water service lines and household plumbing materials. Lead in water usually occurs through corrosion of plumbing products containing lead; however, disruption (construction or maintenance) of lead service lines may also temporarily increase lead levels in the water supply. This disruption may be sometimes caused by water main maintenance/replacement.  As of June 19, 1986, new or replaced water serviced lines and new household plumbing materials could not contain more than 8% lead.
  1. How can you identify the material of the private water service line including lead or galvanized iron material?
    The City developed an interactive map identifying the size and material of both public and private service lines for all properties within the City. The interactive map does not have data on all private service lines. Please see below information on how to identify the material of the private service line. To view the City’s interactive map, please visit the City's Lead Information webpage, and look under FAQ Lead Service Lines.

    To find out if you have a lead, copper, or galvanized steel service on your property, you (or your landlord) can perform a Materials Verification Test on the water service line where it enters your home to determine the material of the water service line on your property.  Please watch a short YouTube instructional video noted in the FAQ on the City's Lead Information webpage (IDENTIFICATION OF WATER SERVICE LINE FAQ).  If you are unable to determine the material of the private service line, please contact an Illinois Licensed Plumber or call the City’s Water Plant Division at 847.433.4355 and a staff member can assist you. Please note that the staff (uniformed & carrying identification!) will need to enter your home to verify service line material. Also, if a resident does have a lead service line, please volunteer to collect the EPA-required corrosion control monitoring samples.
  2. What can residents do to reduce lead exposure in drinking water?
    Replace your private lead or galvanized iron service line ASAP. For homes with lead service lines, run water for five (5) minutes to flush out lead.

    If you do not have a lead service line, running the water for two (2) minutes at the kitchen tap should clear lead from your household plumbing pipes and fixtures to the kitchen tap. Upon flushing, fill a container with water and store it in the refrigerator for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula throughout the day.

    Clean and remove any debris from faucet aerators on a regular basis.

    Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not remove lead.

    Purchase lead-free faucets and plumbing components. Identify if your plumbing fixtures contain lead by an Illinois Licensed Plumber. If they exist, plan on replacing them ASAP.

    Use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.

    You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter that is certified to remove "total lead". Please ensure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or for information on lead-free water filters.

    Test your water for lead. Call the City at: 847.433.4355 to find out how to get your water tested for lead. While the City does not do the testing, we can provide a list of laboratories certified to do the testing.

  3. Do I have to replace private lead or galvanized iron service line when City replaces the public service line?
    If you or the City have identified that your private service line is lead or a galvanized iron line then please plan on replacing this line in conjunction with City’s watermain replacement project. No partial line replacement is allowed. A building permit will be required to replace the private service line. To learn more about permits, please visit

    As noted earlier, the City will pay for and replace the public service line. The homeowners should replace the private service line at their own cost. If the City does not hear back from the resident, after providing notification of lead or galvanized iron service line and prior to connecting the new public service line to the new watermain, the City will be in contact with the homeowner with alternate options including supplying a water filter for 60 days.

  4. Are there programs to assist residents with the replacement of lead lines?
    To assist homeowners with lead service line replacement, the City has a voluntary cost-share program policy. Only single-family homes replacing both public and private service lines are eligible under this cost-share program. The program is funded annually and is on a first come first serve basis. To view the cost-share policy, please visit the City's Lead Information webpage,, and look under FAQ Lead Service Line Cost Share Program.

  5. How can I get more information about lead and lead service lines?
    Please call the Water Treatment Plant at 84.433.4355 or visit the City Lead Information webpage . The City of Highland Park Water Treatment Plant has maintained a lead control program in place for over 20 years. Additional details on City’s water quality can be reviewed on our website,