South suburban schools shut off drinking fountains over lead concerns

WGN Investigates
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. — Two south suburban schools shut off their drinking fountains in response to lead concerns Thursday, WGN Investigates has learned.

Students are getting ready to return to school in University Park, which has been facing a water crisis for months after high levels of lead were found in the village’s water. Some residents have been under an advisory since June.

Test results from Crete-Monee Middle School and Coretta Scott King Elementary School shared with WGN Thursday show very high levels at Crete-Monee.

While the results were below the federal action limit of 15 parts per billion at Coretta Scott King, the results at Crete-Monee were as high as 1,350. Another 20 samples from the school’s water fountains also showed high levels.

In a statement on its website, the district said it is, “taking every precaution to ensure a safe school environment.”

At both schools, this includes shutting off drinking fountains, supplying water dispensers and providing portable hand washing stations for every bathroom.

Aqua Illinois, the town’s water supplier, said in a statement:

“Our latest round of compliance-based sampling showed lead levels are decreasing across several weeks, which suggests our treatment is working, but it takes time. While we give the treatment time to take effect, we will continue to work with the community and provide protective health measures until this is resolved.”

The State of Illinois recently filed suit against Aqua, alleging they made changes that caused lead to contaminate the village’s drinking water, without permission from state regulators

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