Lead Exceeds Federal Standards in 200 Illinois Public Water Systems

A distressing report on the state of the water supply infrastructure in Illinois reveals the need for better analysis and reporting of water quality.
May 13, 2016, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Darwin Bell

Michael Hawthorne and Jennifer Smith Richards report on the results of a Chicago Tribune analysis of lead in drinking water around the state of Illinois. Using state data, the Tribune team identified 200 public water systems in the state, serving 800,000 people in total, with drinking water that exceeds federal standards for lead.

In the Chicago region, about a dozen water systems exceeded the EPA standard at least twice during the same time period, including Berwyn and Forest View in Cook County, York Township in DuPage County, Barrington and Volo in Lake County, and Marengo and Richmond in McHenry County.

According to the article, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials have specifically targeted the city of Galesburg, which has repeatedly failed lead standards, as an example of a need for many local governments to provide bottled water of filters.


Galesburg is the latest example of how the water crisis in Flint., Mich., is changing the rules. Criticized for responding too slowly in Flint, the EPA is pressuring states to test more frequently and widely for lead in tap water, dramatically expand consumer warnings and consider the costly, time-consuming process of removing lead service lines.

The article includes a lot more fine-grained details about the communities with sub-standard drinking water, as well as a description of some of the holes in treatment, analysis, and response to sub-standard drinking water systems.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, May 12, 2016 in Chicago Tribune
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