Spotlight Politics: Murky Waters of Lead Pipe Debate


Mayor Lori Lightfoot wades into the murky waters of the lead pipe debate. Our politics team of Carol Marin, Paris Schutz and Amanda Vinicky takes on that and more in this edition of Spotlight Politics.


The mayor this week ordered a halt to all water meter installations because of the possible connection to elevated lead in home water supplies. 

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There has been strong evidence presented by the city over the years that any kind of water shutoff can lead to the risk of an elevated level of lead. That’s because all Chicago water contains a chemical called orthophosphate that coats the pipe and prevents lead pieces from falling off. But when water isn’t flowing, there is a risk that some of that coating can fade, causing erosion when the water flows again. It’s why Lightfoot has called for a halt to water meter installations, which require a water shutoff, until the city has more data on lead levels.  There are approximately 375,000 homes or buildings in Chicago with lead service lines, and it could cost more than $2 billion to replace all of them.

A late Sun-Times article reports that federal agents have discovered Ald. Ed Burke owned a burner cellphone while he was under investigation. The report states that, while his main phone was under wiretap, the burner was not, indicating Burke may have known he was under scrutiny and wanted to conduct business without the feds listening.

WTTW News has also learned that the city’s inspector general has been conducting a review of the City Council Finance Committee. Among the findings: Two bank safety deposit boxes that contained old workers’ compensation records. The Finance Committee was in charge of the $100 million workers’ compensation system for decades under Burke’s command. The inspector general has those and other documents in his possession for review. Burke has plead not guilty to 14 corruption counts, including attempted bribery and extortion.

Follow us on Twitter: @wttw @paschutz @CarolMarin | @AmandaVinicky


Related stories:

Lead Concerns Halt Chicago Water Meter Installations

Spotlight Politics: Austin Real Estate Deal Under Scrutiny

FBI Raids 34th Ward Office of Ald. Carrie Austin

Changes Coming to Chicago’s Embattled Workers’ Comp System


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