Elkhart responds to EPA 10-year plan to replace lead service lines

ELKHART, Ind. - Elkhart is raising their water and sewer rates.

They say it's all because of a major proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency requiring all cities to replace lead water pipes within 10 years.

Millions of Americans still have lead pipes for drinking water.

Advocates say this new rule could potentially boost kids' IQ and cut adult health issues.

According to the EPA, states like Michigan and Indiana have between 230,000 to 460,000 lead service lines, some of which run through cities in Michiana.

Just this week, the Elkhart Common Council approved water and sewage rate hikes to increase revenue to replace lead lines, upgrade infrastructure and separate sewers.

One resident and business owner of the Old Style Deli, Derek Ogawa, feels on the fence with this ordeal.

“It's pretty dramatic, you know over the next five years, like the sewer rate is going to almost double. The water rate is going to increase dramatically as well too and again like who wants to drink out of lead pipes for the rest of their time here," said Ogawa.

Residents will see water bills rising by about $6 per month by 2027 and will be phased in gradually starting in 2025.

Sewage bills, on the other hand, will be increasing close to $7 dollars annually from August 2024 to January 2028.

Corinne Straight with the City of Elkhart adds that they'll face penalties if the project isn't completed by 2029.

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