Officials in a south Chicago suburb knowingly drew drinking water from a contaminated well for more than two decades, even after warnings by state environmental officials, according to a published report.
Records show Environmental Protection Agency officials cited contaminated tap water in Crestwood in the mid-1980s, saying it contained dangerous chemicals related to a dry-cleaning solvent, according to Sunday editions of the Chicago Tribune.
The water was contaminated with chemicals linked to perchloroethylene, or PCE, which is believed to cause cancer.
Village officials then told state regulators that they would draw tap water from Lake Michigan, but Crestwood continued to draw the contaminated well water.
At times, 20 percent of the village's water supply came from the contaminated well, according to the Tribune.
During the two decades, as residents of the village of about 11,000 unknowingly drank the contaminated water, officials touted Crestwood's cheap water rates, the Tribune reported.
The contaminated well was not shut off until late 2007, after EPA officials tested the water and found contamination.
City officials didn't respond to Tribune requests for comment. And messages left by The Associated Press Sunday for village officials weren't returned.
Former Crestwood Mayor Chester Stranczek, who was mayor in the mid-1980s, said he did not know the details of the investigation and declined to comment to the Daily Southtown in a story posted online this weekend.
"I was mayor for 38 years, and I've never been accused of doing something wrong..." Stranczek told the Southtown Star. "... I have to wait for the lawyers. If there is a lawsuit, our lawyers will be very unhappy if I talk about it."