Anger Flows at Sauk Village Water Meeting

Providing bottled water to residents a costly endeavor, mayor says

By Rob Elgas and Mitchell Grogg
|  Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012  |  Updated 12:18 AM CDT
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The Illinois Environment Protection Agency recently issued another warning for south suburban Sauk Village saying the town's drinking water contains way too much of the gas vinyl chloride.

The Illinois Environment Protection Agency recently issued another warning for south suburban Sauk Village saying the town's drinking water contains way too much of the gas vinyl chloride.

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Perhaps adding insult to injury, officials holding a meeting to discuss a far south suburban's contaminated water initially offered the bottled variety for $1.

Police later began handing it out for free to those in the overflow crowd before they quickly ran out.

At issue was a warning recently issued by the Illinois Environment Protection Agency stating the village's water supply contained too much vinyl chloride, a gas the EPA says can cause cancer.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Lewis Towers met with state leaders to discuss solutions. There are a few, but they're all expensive.

"With the number of residents and number of homes we have in order to distribute bottled water it is going to be very costly," he said.

At the evening meeting attended by well more than 200 people, those who wished to speak had just three minutes to state their concerns.

"What do we do? We just drink the water and later on you tell us it's not safe?" one resident chided.

One man carried in a jug of brown water.

The village voted in March to use water from Lake Michigan, but that requires a major reconstruction project. That $19 million project is not expected to be complete until 2016, making a water shutoff a possibility.

"It's a shame we have to go through this and we have to pay the water bill and can't do nothing with the water," said resident Linda Tipton.

Some residents said they prefer a process called "air stripping," which is said to be less expensive. The process filters the chemical from the water before it's pumped to homes.

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