Officials in west suburban Western Springs announced Friday afternoon that water quality would be improving in the village after the repair and subsequent safety tests of a damaged deep well.
Concerned residents had been complaining about discolored water and some said their clothing, bathroom fixtures and appliances were getting ruined because of it.
Others questioned what the water may be doing to their health.
“You don’t know what’s in the water. You don’t know if it’s safe to drink. And sometimes it smells,” resident Molly McShane said.
Residents have reported intermittent discolored water coming out of their faucets in recent weeks. Some said they have witnessed similar water issues at different times going back several years.
“You can say it’s just the cost of living here, but it shouldn’t be,” resident Bill Melonides said.
The village insists its well water is safe and meets IEPA standards. They also said the recent discoloration of water was only temporary.
“Village Staff has worked tirelessly to minimize the disruption,” wrote Village President Alice Gallagher in a letter to residents of Western Springs.
Water plant superintendent Erin Duffy said the village’s primary deep well, Well No. 3, experienced a catastrophic electrical failure on August 1st. As a result, the village was required to switch to a backup well, Well No. 1.
Well No. 1 is shallow and contains more iron and hard water qualities, according to Duffy. Additionally, water from Well No. 1 gets mixed with water from another deep well, Well No. 4, before it is available for public consumption.
“It does result in a higher hardness and a higher iron content, all-around,” Duffy said.
Well No. 3 has since been repaired and as of Friday afternoon has been brought back to distribution. The use of Well No. 1 for distribution will be discontinued. A village spokesperson said residents would see water improvements within days.
Additionally, the village is drilling another deep well, Well No. 5, that is scheduled to be completed next Spring.
“That will build redundancy in our system,” Duffy said. “So, we’ll have three deep wells instead of just the two that we have. That will eliminate the use of Well #1 in situations where there’s an emergency and one of the deep wells is down.”
A village spokesperson said the cost of all water-related projects, including Well No. 5, will be funded by the water rate. Duffy also acknowledged outside experts have been consulted regarding the construction of Well No. 5.
Still, residents said they’ll believe the changes when they see them.
“They’ve been working on a solution for the past five years and the results are still the same,” McShane said.
Other residents argue there are additional water-related concerns that should be addressed, including the replacement of hundred-year-old water mains that have been increasingly breaking.
“We always try to assess it on what’s considered to be the worst and prioritize our work,” public works director Matthew Supert said.
Western Springs began producing its own water in 1892.