Lead levels force halt in Chicago water meter installation

The city of Chicago has temporarily halted the installation of water meters after tests showed elevated lead levels after work was done.

Despite the action, Mayor Lori Lightfoot insisted Tuesday the city's drinking water is safe.

Officials say of the 510 homes being tested by the city, 36 homes show lead levels higher than the 15-parts-per-billion guideline set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are 135,000 buildings and 179,000 residences with water meters.

Lightfoot says it isn't known what the issues are with the meters. An EPA study of Chicago homes in 2013 found disruptions to water lines can cause increased lead levels. A protective coating can build up inside older lead pipes, but that coating can be damaged when the pipe is disturbed.

Lightfoot urged all homeowners with meters to take the city up on its offer to test their water and receive a free filter.