Chicago has the opportunity to be a leader in environmental sustainability. We can start by divesting the city’s financial resources from fossil fuels and push for 100% renewable energy. I support Sierra Club’s proposal to make the transition by 2035, and locally adopting the proposals from the Green New Deal as proposed by Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

An additional step the city must take is reevaluating the city’s current recycling plan.  A recent BGA investigation found that a private city recycling company, Waste Management, has been diverting tons of residential plastic and paper into landfills the company owns.  We can’t allow any contracts for recycling haulers to go to companies that also own for-profit landfills where a portion of the city’s garbage is dumped.

Dealing with Lead

The only way to eliminate lead from our city’s water supply with certainty is to replace the lead service lines that deliver water to households. This infrastructure replacement will be a massive cost-intensive project that the city must plan for before the problem escalates any further and endangers public health. 

Portions of the service lines will require access to private property to replace, so the city must plan not only for the cost of this infrastructure project, but also how to access areas that are not public land. One possible solution is to mandate service line upgrades for future real estate transactions of residential properties.

Public service line replacement should be prioritized through an analysis of the highest lead content as measured by GIS overlay between lead screening data from mandated school health examinations (kindergarten blood lead levels) and direct testing of lead in drinking water.

As funds are set aside, combined activated carbon and ion exchange resin filters can be used in the intermediary to remove lead directly from faucets. These filters also remove beneficial minerals including calcium and fluoride, so they should be used as a last resort.