EPA asks Galesburg to help protect residents from lead in water
May 2nd, 2016 by Steve
An article by the Chicago Tribune on April 27th, 2016 stated:
Federal regulators are recommending that the city of Galesburg provide bottled water or filters to residents affected by high levels of lead in their drinking water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also urging that Galesburg, located 150 miles southwest of Chicago, pay for additional lead testing for customers who request it and provide more public education about health risks.
In addition, the Illinois EPA has ordered the city to perform a corrosion control study to learn whether specific treatments might better prevent lead from leaching into tap water from old pipes and plumbing.
The Associated Press, which analyzed EPA data involving 75,000 water systems, reported this month that Galesburg had one of the nation’s most persistent problems with lead in drinking water.
Galesburg’s water has exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per billion 22 times in the last 25 years, including during the most recent sampling period last fall. Knox County, which is home to Galesburg, also has some of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in Illinois.
In an April 20 letter to Illinois officials, EPA regional water division director Tinka Hyde urged the state to get a commitment from Galesburg, a city of 30,000, to provide bottled water or filters to residents whose homes exceed the federal action level for lead.
“Otherwise we will consider other options to protect public health,” Hyde wrote.
The EPA has taken several actions to improve the monitoring of lead in drinking water after the crisis in Flint, Mich., where some children were poisoned when the city shifted to a more corrosive water source.
An Illinois EPA employee was in Galesburg on Tuesday taking water samples at six homes where lead levels exceeded the federal standard last fall.
Galesburg City Manager Todd Thompson told the City Council in a meeting Monday night that the steps recommended by the EPA would cost about $90,000 to implement. That includes $33,000 for the extra lead testing, $25,000 for certified water filters, $10,500 for bottled water and $10,000 for the corrosion control study.
He said it might take a decade or longer and cost at least $10 million to replace the lead service lines at 4,700 homes in the city.
City aldermen said the lead poisoning rates were unacceptable, but several downplayed the role of drinking water. They argued it made more sense to spend money removing lead paint from the city’s old homes, which health officials believe to be the biggest factor in childhood lead poisoning.
Ald. Jeremy Karlin said the city’s response was “in many ways being dictated” by regulators.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat who has been calling on the city to act, said she’s pleased Galesburg leaders are considering the EPA’s recommendations.
View the full article HERE or by clicking on this link http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-epa-galesburg-lead-met-20160427-story.html.