Information Center Opens as Drinking Water Problems Continue in Will County

Hundreds of residents have been avoiding tap water since Friday after Aqua Illinois found high lead levels in some of the water

An information center has opened and a water truck is now place to help residents of east Will County who have been told not to drink water from their taps due to elevated lead levels. 

The information center will let Aqua Illinois customers find out if their home remains under the "do not consume" advisory. They can also sign up for WaterSmart alerts and water testing kits and filters, the company said. 

Hundreds of residents have been avoiding tap water since Friday after Aqua Illinois found high lead levels in some of the water. 

Many neighborhoods in University Park, some parts of Monee, and Green Garden have been removed from the "do not consume" advisory, but not all.

In a letter released Sunday, Aqua Illinois President Craig Blanchette said 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, were also allowed to use tap water without restriction. 
An emrgency meeting has been called by the Village of University Park Board, where the situation will be discussed with residents. An ordinance declaring an emergency over the water supply issue is on the agenda, but it's unclear whether representatives will be present from Aqua Illinois at the meeting. 

The residents were informed Saturday of elevated lead levels in the water supply, and over 6,000 cases of bottled water were delivered to affected residents, the company said. Many in the area, however, said they are worried the problem has persisted longer than they may know and that damage may already be done. 

"The question that we all want to know is, how long has it been going on?" University Park resident Lorenzo Davis said.

Aqua Illinois said it believes the source of the lead "is tied to an adjustment in the treatment, which appears to have changed the water chemistry." 

"Existing lead in internal plumbing of older properties was released into the water," the company said in a statement. 

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

All residents still under the “do not consume” advisory should refrain from drinking water from their taps, officials said. 

“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.

Aqua Illinois said it is working on restoring normal water supply to residents. 

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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