Nearly 200 public water systems in Illinois, which serve over 800,000 people, exceeded Environmental Protection Agency lead standards during at least one year since 2004, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis.
Federal officials are also encouraging local officials to supply bottled water or filters to affected residents in downstate Galesburg, which has faced repeated problems with lead-contaminated water.
Roughly a dozen water systems in the Chicago area have exceeded EPA standards at least twice since 2014, including Berwyn, Forest View, York Township, Barrington, Marengo and Richmond.
According to the report, local officials aren’t typically required to respond or inform residents unless their system exceeds standards for an entire testing cycle, some of which last three years.
Consequently, water systems can tell consumers that their water is safe in annual notices, even if their yearly results exceed federal standards or high lead levels are detected in individual homes.
Flint, Michigan is facing an ongoing water crisis, which stems from a decision to source the city’s drinking water from the Flint River, instead of Lake Huron, as a cost-cutting measure.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has come under fire for his allegedly delayed response to the crisis. Filmmaker Michael Moore, a Flint native, created an online petition to have Snyder arrested. The petition has over 600,000 signatures.