The Council’s Budget Committee approved the appointment of Barrett Murphy as the city’s new Water Commissioner, spending most of his confirmation hearing inquiring about the city’s efforts to mitigate flooding and check the city’s older water pipes for lead.

Attendance: Chairman Carrie Austin (34), Brian Hopkins (2), Rod Sawyer (6), Michelle Harris (8), Marty Quinn (13), Raymond Lopez (15), Toni Foulkes (16), Derrick Curtis (18), Willie Cochran (20), Walter Burnett (27), Jason Ervin (28), Milly Santiago (31), Scott Waguespack (32), Gilbert Villegas (36), Nick Sposato (38), Marge Laurino (39), Brendan Reilly (42), Tom Tunney (44), Deb Silverstein (50)

Murphy told aldermen there has been a surge in the request for lead tests since the crisis in Flint, Michigan. The number of service requests is so high that the Water Department is sending out kits for homeowners to check their own pipes, he said.

Asked about the equity in testing, if some neighborhoods were being checked more frequently than others, Murphy said no. He later added that the department found no correlation between older buildings and higher risks for lead. He also said that Chicago Public Schools, not the the city’s Water Department, have been conducting tests at the city’s schools.

The committee also approved, without discussion, the appointment of Patricia G. Perez to the Chicago Public Library Board. Perez is the former Executive Director of law firm Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, and served as Director of Administration at several other large Chicago law firms.

An intergovernmental agreement with the Cook County Sheriff’s office and the city advanced out of committee, as well. It would trade use of two city-owned backhoes and a wood chipper for the County’s Restoring Neighborhoods Workforce Program (RENEW) in exchange for use of Cook County Jail inmates to serve as Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP).