Frustration Continues for South Suburban Residents After Elevated Lead Levels Detected in Water Supply

The local water company is providing bottled water to residents

Residents of east Will County continue to express their frustration for lack of answers after being warned not to drink water from their taps this past weekend due to elevated lead levels. 

Residents in University Park, some parts of Monee, and Green Garden were informed Saturday of elevated lead levels in the water supply, and over 6,000 cases of bottled water have already been delivered to affected residents, with more on the way, the company said.

University Park local Lorenzo Davis said he moved to the area two years ago but is now rethinking that decision.

"The question that we all want to know is, how long has it been going on?" he asks.

Although Aqua Illinois announced Sunday that some areas of suburban University Park can once again consume tap water in their homes, others remain impacted by elevated lead levels found in the water supply.

In a new letter released Sunday, Aqua Illinois President Craig Blanchette said that residents in Arbors at Hickory Creek, Fairway Clubs, and Pine Woods Court can once again drink their water. Later Sunday evening, it was announced that students and teachers at Governor's State University, located in University Park, and areas west of Interstate 57, including all of Green Garden Township, are now allowed to use tap water without restriction.

Residents are advised to allow their water to flush out their pipes for at least two minutes, or until water runs clear.

All other residents who don't live in the listed areas are still under a “do not consume” advisory, and should refrain from drinking water from their taps.

“While this is a positive step, we realize the inconvenience for our customers and we will remain on the ground working with these communities to minimize the impact as much as possible,” the statement read.

The company advises residents not to drink, prepare baby formula, make ice cubes, cook, or use tap water for brushing their teeth while the “do not consume” order is in effect. Residents can still use tap water to bathe and for other uses.

Another resident, Bettie Wayne says she's been living in that community for the past 13 years and was notified two weeks ago that they were flushing out their system but that now "it seems like the same thing that happened in Flint is happening."

Aqua Illinois is continuing to work on restoring normal water supplies to impacted residents, and is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the source of the lead, the company said in a statement.

On Saturday evening, the company announced that it will implement a treatment protocol in the area, flushing hydrants in the impacted communities, but residents are upset that they weren’t notified of the situation sooner, and some worry that they may have been consuming water with elevated lead levels for long periods of time.

Residents impacted by the “do not consume” order can call 877-987-2782, or visit Aqua Illinois’ website for more information.

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