Suburban Water Company Provides Update on Elevated Lead Levels

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

In a new statement issued Friday night, Aqua Illinois is asking customers in the University Park-area to run their faucets to help implement a new "treatment process." 

According to the utility company, residents are being asked to run all faucets in their homes, beginning on the lower floors and moving upward, for at least 30 minutes to assist with the new program. 

"Aqua Illinois is asking customers to run all faucets in their homes, working from the lower floors upward," a new letter said. "Turn on all the faucets and let them all run for 30 minutes. Then turn them off, starting at the lower level and working upward. This will help the new treatment process re-establish the protective coating inside the impacted homes." 

Hundreds of residents have been avoiding tap water since last week 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.

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 thousands of 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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