Sauk Village officials ponder temporary water solution
By Matthew Bruce Correspondent July 24, 2012 9:48PM
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:25AM
Sauk Village officials on Tuesday said a temporary fix to the village’s water crisis could be in place by next week.
The village board discussed a three-phased plan to address the village’s well water reserves, which state officials said last week contain unhealthy levels of a carcinogenic contaminant.
The proposed plan calls for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to foot the bill for installing portable air strippers in the contaminated wells. The air stripping devices would purify the well water at the source of the polluted supply.
Village officials estimated that those temporary air strippers could be installed into the wells by Aug. 2. The village would then pay for a more long-term fix, installing permanent air strippers into the wells by November. The last phase of the plan calls for an emergency hookup to Lake Michigan water supply.
The IEPA announced on July 16 that the level of vinyl chloride had risen to 1.68 parts per billion in the village’s two wells. State law requires that all residents in areas where vinyl chloride concentrations rise above 1 part per billion be notified.
The air strippers would reduce the levels of the contaminant in the water supply.
Sauk Village officials urged residents to attend an emergency meeting being held by the IEPA and the Illinois Department of Public Health at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Bloom Trail High School auditorium, 22331 Cottage Grove Ave. in Chicago Heights.
Sauk Village Mayor Lewis Towers vetoed an ordinance to raise residents’ water bills an average of $75 to pay for the village’s hookup to a Lake Michigan water supply through South Chicago Heights. The move to Lake Michigan water was approved by a referendum vote in the March 20 elections. Towers said now is not the time to raise water rates, citing the fallout from the contaminated wells as his reason for the veto.
The Lake Michigan project is expected to cost $19.7 million. Village officials voted to install the air strippers during an emergency meeting on Thursday for $868,000.