Lead Water Line Information
What is a water service line? It is the smaller diameter pipe that runs from the water main to a home or business. The Village of Skokie owns and maintains the portion of the service from the water main to the Buffalo Box (the round metal b-box located in the parkway) and the property owner owns and maintains the portion of the service from the Buffalo Box to the water meter inside the home. Lead was a common material used for service lines until it was banned in 1986. Copper is now used for water services.
The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act (Public Act 102-0613) went in to effect on January 1, 2022. Partial service line replacements on lead services are no longer allowed. This Act mandates that the full length of the service line is replaced. In the event of an emergency repair that affects a lead service line occurs, Skokie must contact the building owner to begin the process of replacing the entire line within 30 days of the repair or 120 days in the event of weather or other circumstances that prohibit construction.
The Act also requires Skokie to keep an updated inventory the type of material used for each service line. If you have not done so, please fill out a Water Service Line Material Survey
For more information on lead and how it gets in our drinking water, click here.
For property owners who are unsure of the material composition of the water line connecting your property to the water main, the following instructions will help identify key characteristics of both lead and copper water lines.
Instructions for identifying the material composition of your water service line:
Possible tools needed (some conclusions can be made by observation):
- a key or coin
- a refrigerator magnet
Locate the water service line coming into the property. This is typically found in the basement or lowest level of the structure. The picture below may help to assist with locating the water line point of entry.
Identify a test area on the pipe between the point where it comes into the home and the inlet valve. If the pipe is covered or wrapped, expose a small area of metal.
Picture displays the typical inlet valve and meter. This photo shows a lead service line. Area to test is the vertical pipe to the bottom right.
Use the edge of the key or coin to scratch through any corrosion that may have built up on the outside of the pipe. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe.
- Copper Water Service Line
If the scraped area is copper in color, like a penny, your service line is copper. A magnet will not stick to a copper service line.
- Lead Water Service Line
If the scraped area is shiny and silver, the service line is lead. The refrigerator magnet will not stick to a lead pipe; however, it will stick to a galvanized connector. If the refrigerator magnet sticks to the connector, the water service line is most likely lead.
In January 2017, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency mandated that community drinking water systems post on their public website an inventory map showing the locations of lead water service lines, and update annually as lead lines are removed from the system and replaced with copper.
Based upon existing data, more than 90% of Skokie water lines connecting properties to water mains are made from lead, and were put in place when the system was built nearly 100 years ago. Although Skokie's drinking water is treated to coat the lines and prevent lead from leaching into the water, the best way to protect drinking water from lead is to replace the lead lines with copper lines.
This map shows the water service line materials of the Skokie drinking water system. Unless the water service line is known to be copper, it is assumed to be lead.
View a copy of the Skokie Water Service Line Map.
Following the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, many water consumers are asking the question: is my drinking water safe? Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of corrosion, or the wearing away, of materials containing lead. For example, lead water service lines, lead solder used to join copper piping, and household plumbing and fixtures (see illustration below).
Read the Lead in Drinking Water information.
View the most recent Skokie Water Quality Report (PDF).