Chicago has removed only 12 lead lines

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Last week Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pledged to remove all the lead service lines in the city of Benton Harbor, Mich., over the next 18 months.

Why it matters locally: Chicago has more toxic lead lines that connect homes to the water main than any other U.S. city.

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The latest: Mayor Lori Lightfoot did announce a more immediate removal plan that would use federal block grants to remove lead lines in low-income homes.

  • This plan aimed to remove at least 450 lines by September 2021.

  • But as of last week, the Department of Water Management had removed only 12 lines, DWM spokesperson Megan Vidis tells Axios.

What they're saying: Water Management officials say they have been using "in-house" workers, who do not work on removal full-time, to do the replacements, which has slowed the process down.

  • "But when [an outside] contractor is selected, the pace of replacements will escalate," Vidis says. "The outreach part of the pilot is in process with replacements to follow."

In the meantime: Per the Chicago Health Department, people in homes connected to lead lines should filter their water and flush their taps for 5 minutes every morning before consuming.

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