On November 1, the Emanuel administration’s water department announced that it has known for months that Chicago homes with newly installed water meters have lead levels above Environmental Protection Agency standards. The Emanuel administration has admitted that 17 percent of homes that had a water meter installed have lead above the EPA standard, which would mean at least 28,000 homes have lead above that level.
This is an incredible revelation and there is absolutely no reason to trust Rahm Emanuel — a man that has lied so often to the people of this country — is telling the whole story. We know — based on the city’s own data — that the lead problem is much worse than they are willing to admit. In fact, the Mayor’s office is running scared on this issue and all that is being offered to the people of the city in the face of a grave man-made humanitarian crisis possibly worse than Flint is a new water department study on the removal of over 400,000 lead pipes in the water system — a study that will take who knows how long and lead to who knows what.
To the say the least, Mayor Emanuel, for so long an elite leader in the Democratic party, exemplifies everything that is wrong with the way this city and this country is being run.
With the administration choosing only to release the data on homes reporting lead above the EPA standard, it seems very possible that most if not all homes with water meters have some lead. No level of lead in drinking water is safe and the administration’s continued installation of water meters while doing nothing to address the 400,000 lead service lines in the ground means they Mayor is responsible for knowingly poisoning thousands of people in Chicago.
Rahm Emanuel keeping these results secret is no surprise to the people of Chicago, as his administration has a history of cover-ups. The city has had data for years showing that city water main repairs and water meter installations could be disturbing lead service lines and pouring lead in the water, but they’ve done nothing to address the problem. The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this year that 70% of homes tested have lead in the water according to the city’s own data. The Emanuel administration has covered up the dangers of Chicago drinking water, like it covered up the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder by Jason Van Dyke.
The LEAD OUT NOW! Chicago campaign advocates that the City of Chicago begin removing all the lead service lines putting Chicago’s water at risk immediately. LEAD OUT NOW! Chicago campaigners have been building a movement around the issue of lead in the drinking water for months, educating residents about lead through street outreach, public forums, and other methods. We’ve collected thousands of signatures from people who want the City of Chicago to take action now on the lead poisoning crisis. We held a public hearing on Sept. 22 that was covered by CBS TV and WGN radio news and much more.
On October 31, Patrick McWilliams of LEAD OUT NOW! Chicago spoke at the Chicago City Council meeting about the need to begin tackling the lead issue immediately. “Chicago is one of the richest cities in the world,” McWilliams said, “with $95 million for a new cop academy, with billions to offer in handouts to entice Amazon, yet when it comes to providing the most basic services and basic guarantees, like clean, drinkable water, it consistently falls short.”
That City Council has seen the recent introduction by Aldermans Gilbert Villegas (36th), Chris Taliaferro (29th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) of a proposal to tax property transactions to create a fund to begin paying for the replacement of lead service lines. The proposal falls exceedingly short, both monetarily and in terms of the concrete plans needed now to start fixing our drinking water. That anything is happening at all is a result of grassroots outrage and organizing and we must use the new momentum in this vital struggle to raise the level of pressure on City Hall.
Since the severity of the lead crisis in Chicago was revealed by an April article in the Chicago Tribune, Rahm Emanuel and his allies have gone all out to muzzle any and all discussion of the lead crisis. And now Emanuel has even come out against this modest proposal, even as he was sitting on even more information about lead in the water supply. The water department’s promise of water filters for homes with water meters installed in them falls way short of what is needed.
LEAD OUT NOW! Chicago will continue to advocate for the immediate removal of all lead service lines, among other demands to help alleviate this public health crisis, especially for vulnerable and oppressed communities. You should sign and share the LEAD OUT NOW! petition now stop the criminal poisoning of Chicago.