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New partnership between Augustana and Rock Island letting students help replace lead pipes

The college's Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities announced a partnership with Rock Island aimed at ensuring safe water.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill — Students at Augustana College will be helping the City of Rock Island search for and replace lead water pipes as part of a new partnership.

College and City officials announced the program in a press conference at the Steve and Jane Bahls Campus Leadership Center on Wednesday, July 27 in a move designed to help improve the safety of local water.

Dr. Michael Reisner, director of Augustana's Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities, said that the program will help Augustana students get hands-on experience as they help the City replace lead pipes in concurrence with a new Illinois law.

The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, which was enacted in 2021, requires that cities inventory and replace both publically and privately-owned lead lines within certain deadlines and implement financial strategies to fund those replacements. Thaw law also mandates that this process is carried out equitably and prioritizes low-income neighborhoods.

Dr. Murphy explains says that the partnership is “ very much an interdisciplinary project,” adding that students and faculty of all majors, skillsets, and perspectives will be helping to tackle a real-life problem close to home.

Officials say that Rock Island has over 15,000 water service lines, about 12,000 of which are older than 1986; the year in which lead lines became prohibited.

The law states that once the inventory of the lead lines is completed, cities have a two-year deadline to create a replacement plan and 20 years to carry it out.

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