Elgin District 20 Residents Voice Concerns About Drinking Water

30 June, 2024

County Board District 20 Concerns 

Safe drinking water and increase in single-use plastics

by Silvia Schrage

June 28, 2024


My name is Silvia Schrage and I’m running for County Board Member of Kane County Board District 20 because there seems to be a total disconnect between the issues that concern our district 20 residents and the concerns of the County Board.

As I talk to different residents, some are happy because they got their lead service line replaced, but most of them are concerned because they might have to wait another 10 years until their lead service line gets replaced. In the meantime, though they pay for water, they have to run the water five minutes in the morning before they use it or not even drink it at all, and there are blocks in which everyone is buying bottled water.  These residents are not only concerned about the expense and inconvenience of having to buy water when they thought they had paid for safe drinking water with their taxes, but also discouraged at the amount of single-use plastic water bottles that they are adding to the mountains of plastic in our landfills. Though Elgin replaced the lead service lines of 870 homes in 2023 and is scheduled to replace the lead service line in almost 1,000 homes by the end of 2024, at the current rate, some homes will not get their lead service line replaced until 2034. How many water bottles does that add up to per household, over a span of 10 years?

If your home was built before 1988 and you haven’t had your water tested, you can click on this link https://elginil.gov/2640/Elgins-Lead-Response  and see if you qualify to get your water tested for free. If you are wondering if and when your home is scheduled to get its lead service line replaced, you can look at the maps listing various census tracks  on pages 72-77 of the InitialLead Service Line Replacement Plan published by the City of Elgin in April 2024 (https://elginil.gov/DocumentCenter/View/82801/LSL-Replacement-Plan), to see when you’re scheduled to have your lead service line replaced (there is a table listing census tracks followed, where census tracks have been subdivided by median household income, followed by maps for the tracks that are scheduled to be done each year).

In the last few months, I addressed the County Board together with my husband and son, asking the County to consider using $30 million of surplus ARPA funds to expedite the enormous job that the City of Elgin is currently undertaking. Though our concerns about the County spending $30-$50 million on a building that would consist mostly of meeting rooms and storage was heard, they still have not chosen to cooperate with Elgin’s efforts to address the lead service line problem.

If the problem is a matter of jurisdiction, this would be one case to show that having too many overlapping governing bodies over the same geographical area is not helpful but rather works against the interests of the taxpayers.

Our current board members recently passed an oversweeping climate change package that would increase the cost of new buildings, by requiring all new construction to have the capabilitiy of electric vehicle charging, whether our current grid can support this increase in electrical usage or not. In the meantime, we have a waiting period of 10 years on getting safe drinking water for a large number of our constituents, who, to protect themselves from lead, are loading our landfills with more single-use plastic. At the bare minimum, when we have a municipality in our county looking to fund a project that might range in total cost betweeen $121 and $135 million, we should be very careful about undertaking new projects that will burden our taxpayers even more while we don’t expedite reducing current damage to the very environment we claim to want to protect.

Lead pipes cause long term health problems and can even lead to violence and crime, not to mention birth defects, so I will continue to champion efforts, and even encourage tax incentives across the county to replace old and harmful pipes with new ones that are safer and cleaner.

My vision for County Board Seat 20 is that I help Kane County help Elgin.  To volunteer, contribute or contact me regarding my campaign, go to https://silviaforkane.com/home/.