Lead Service Inventory and Replacement Plan

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) has mandated that all water systems in the State of Illinois send out a letter regarding water service lines. Along with the letter, we are sending out a lead service line informational letter to put into perspective and explain the lead water service line identification process here in the City of Charleston.
Charleston’s Water Treatment plant (WTP), completed in 2005, produces very high quality water and pumps the water out into a distribution system that serves the properties in the City of Charleston. Current process parameters that are in place and intended to specifically address the possibility of lead in our distribution system are:
1) Maintaining PH / acidity of water between 8.4 and 9.4 as directed by the IEPA.
2) Feeding greater than .1 part per million (ppm) polyphosphate, as directed by the IEPA, to create thin film inside water mains and house hold plumbing to minimize leaching of any lead that may exist in the public or private plumbing systems.
3) Checking corrosiveness of the water by using a bench test inside the lab to simulate the corrosiveness of our water on piping and plumbing. These test results were very good. This testing is not required by the IEPA, but the City chooses to perform these tests to obtain additional water quality information.
For the past 25 years, the City has been sampling for lead in 30 homes every three years as required by the IEPA. The lead sampling results are included in the Consumer Confidence Report, which is on the City web site, and a direct link to this site is included on all water bills. Generally, our lead sampling results are very good.
This sampling schedule is changing to sampling every year beginning in 2025 per IEPA requirements and the City is increasing the number of sampling locations beyond the number of sample sites required by the IEPA.

The City of Charleston has initiated a Lead Service Line Identification and Replacement Program. The program has been mandated by the IEPA. The purpose of this program is to determine if there are lead water lines entering the home. The City of Charleston requests your help identifying service lines in the water distribution system.

What is a Service Line? 

A service line is the water pipe that connects a house or building to the City’s water main. The portion of the water service from the water meter to the house is considered privately owned and is the maintenance responsibility of the property owner.  The portion of the service line from the City water main to the meter is considered City property and maintenance. 

service-line-configuration - Copy

Service line material types may consist of: Lead, galvanized steel, copper, PVC, and polyethylene.
The objective of the Lead Service Line Identification and Replacement Program is to eventually identify and replace all water service lines that may contain lead regardless of whether the service line is City or Private Property owner responsibility.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency recently revised the lead and copper rule for community drinking water, requiring municipalities to gather and update water service line material information for all structures connected to the distribution system.

Participation from water customers is essential for completing this inventory and The City of Charleston is asking for your help.
Please access the online survey to submit your water service line material to the City of Charleston.

We need one survey to be completed for each property with a water service. The water service for a property with multiple apartments, for example, only needs one survey for the entire property. The property owner, or their designee, should complete the survey for their property.
Click here for Online Survey
If you take the online survey by August 31, 2024, you will receive a $5.00 credit on the water account for each property surveyed.
How to identify service line material:
1) Locate the water meter.
Normally found in the front yard. The water meter will be in a pit with a circle lid that says “water meter”.
2) Locate the service line inside you home:
Look for the pipe that comes from the water meter through the outside wall of your home and connects to the interior plumbing of your house. This will be in the crawl space or basement under your home.
3) Identify the material
Material details helpful for identification:
Use a key or a coin to scratch the pipe (like you would scratch a lottery ticket). If the pipe is painted, use sand paper to expose the metal first.
Place a magnet on the pipe to see if it sticks to the pipe. The magnet will not stick to lead or copper.

how to identify lead
• Gray in color
• Non-magnetic
• Soft metal, easy to mark
• Connections resemble a bulb shape
Galvanized Steel:
• Silver/grey in color
• Magnetic
• May observe red/rusty areas
• Similar color and shine of a penny
• May have green and blue coloration
• Non-magnetic
• Blue or black in color
• Lettering or stripes may be imprinted on the pipe

Plan Information:

Per IEPA guidelines, it is possible that homes constructed prior to 1986 may have lead service lines; therefore, the first part of our data collection phase is to eliminate homes that were constructed after 1986.  This date factor alone will help us filter out many homes in Charleston.

IEPA requirements dictate that replacement of galvanized steel service lines and any remaining lead goosenecks must be completely replaced starting in 2027.  Charleston’s official replacement plan will start in 2024.  The City does have multiple water main construction projects that will be constructed in 2024 and 2025, and we will continue to document and replace any lead services that are found during these projects.

Most of the private water service lines in the city are currently of “unknown” material to the city. We know a large percentage of these unknown service lines are not lead; however, the IEPA requires that we positively identify the service lines on the City side of the meter and the House side of the meter in order to remove them from the replacement list. 

Since we have a large number of unknown service lines, at this time our efforts will be best spent identifying services line materials in order to remove them from the unknown service line list.  Over the next two years as we identify more of the unknown service lines in the system and update our inventory, the overall number of potential lead service lines on the “unknown” list will be reduced significantly.  

Methods to identify service line materials will include:

  • Sending informational letters with Service line photo identification information and a QR Code that will link directly to a service line identification survey on the City web site.
  • Including a link with the same informational letter, photo identification, and survey on the City web site and Facebook pages.
  • Placing an informational note on all City water bills directing property owners to visit the City web site link for the Identification Survey.
  • For properties that do not complete a survey on line, we will mail out post cards that contain the brief survey including return postage.
  • Incentive to complete the survey in the form of a $5.00 discount per property on a water bill if the survey is completed and submitted to the City by a date, to be determined, will apply.
  • The City will use GIS maps of the City that contain water main size and material type to eliminate streets and neighborhoods where the water main is constructed of a material that allows us to confirm that no lead fittings or service lines would exist.
  • Where necessary, the City will use our vactor trucks to physically uncover water service lines and identify the service line material as part of a statistical sampling procedure that will allow us to methodically document service line materials throughout the City.

An approximate schedule would be:
June - August 2024:  Resident data collection phase will be implemented using online surveys and be allowed to develop.
September 2024: Post cards to be sent out to properties that have not completed the survey online.
October – November 2025– Begin City investigation of areas where little or no data has been collected using one of its two vactor trucks to pothole service lines in appropriate locations on individual services.  Using the GIS maps, statistical sampling will be performed in a methodical manner that will help identify service lines. 

As data on service lines is collected through one of these methods, information will be updated in the Lead Service Line Inventory spreadsheet by WTP personnel.  Both resident data collection and the City investigation data collection will continue until the City’s list of unknown services is reduced as much as possible and the City has thoroughly covered all parts of the City.  The end result will be a final list of known customer-owned service line materials.


The City of Charleston appreciates your understanding and assistance in this issue.  Please submit any questions to telephone 217-345-5650 or via email at  leadsurvey@co.coles.il.us