EAST CHICAGO, Ind. — A northwest Indiana city has started replacing lead pipes in the area, a move the Environmental Protection Agency says is necessary to provide safe drinking water.

East Chicago officials told the Post-Tribune the goal is to finish work at 400 homes by May.

The state has tested drinking water in the area to determine the source of the lead contaminated water.

Tests have discovered that water coming out of the treatment plant is clean, but is getting contaminated in the lead service lines and pipes leading into homes, said Mary Hollingsworth, the drinking water branch chief for the state Department of Environmental Management.

“The only real solution here if you want a permanent one is to remove the service lines,” said Miguel Del Toral with the EPA’s groundwater and drinking water branch.

Del Toral said residents should use a filter to remove potential contaminants from water until the lead is removed from the water delivery system.

“You can protect your family quickly with a filter,” Del Toral said.

The state Department of Environmental Management started distributing water filters in April as part of a disaster declaration Gov. Eric Holcomb signed.

Department Commissioner Bruno Pigott said the state is helping the city’s efforts to replace services lines in areas of the Superfund site, but that the transition will be slow.

“We can’t do this overnight,” Pigott said.


Information from: Post-Tribune, http://posttrib.chicagotribune.com/