Hundreds attend emergency meeting on water lead levels in south suburbs

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill.— Hundreds of residents in the south suburbs attended a town hall meeting Saturday in hopes of getting some answers about lead levels in their water.

Water company Aqua Illinois issued a “do not consume” water advisory for homes in University Park, Green Garden and Monee Township earlier this month after tests found elevated lead levels in the area. Last week, the ban was lifted for several communities but remains for University Park. The company told customers to not drink, cook with or even use the water to brush their teeth.

On Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported University Park Mayor Joseph Roudez declared a state of emergency.

At Saturday’s meeting, Aqua said they know the source of the problem, the timeline to fix it is still unclear.

Aqua said they narrowed down the issue and lead likely dissolved into the water when they transitioned from well water to softened, unfiltered water in January 2018.

Aqua Illinois president Craig Blanchette attended the meeting.

“We believe a chemical adjustment in University Park caused a deterioration of the protective coding inside the pipes inside the homes,” he said.

The company said it ran tests last August and lead levels were up but still met Illinois EPA requirements.

In May 2019, ran more tests were conducted and the results showed a huge spike.

“We have to determine, using our science and using expertise with our consultants, what do we think happened between August of last year and May of this year,” Blanchette said.

Aqua said they are waiving the June water bill for all impacted customers and will cover the cost of lead testing at home as well as blood tests. The company asks customers to continue to flush their systems at home.



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