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Costly Temporary Fix To Sauk Village Water Woes Begins

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Crews haul in equipment that will be used to perform an "air stripping" of the drinking water in Sauk Village, which has been contaminated with vinyl chloride. (Credit: CBS)

Crews haul in equipment that will be used to perform an “air stripping” of the drinking water in Sauk Village, which has been contaminated with vinyl chloride. (Credit: CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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SAUK VILLAGE (CBS) – CBS 2 has learned the temporary fix to the tainted water system in Sauk Village might cost far more than anybody thought before it’s finished.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports crews began work on Tuesday to install air strippers in the village’s well to begin removing vinyl chloride contamination from the drinking water.

The temporary fix won’t be cheap. One source said, for the first three months alone, the cost of leasing the equipment and paying the technicians to run it will run $400,000.

It took almost two hours for huge trucks to bring the tons of equipment down a residential street and onto the property at the main water pumping station in Sauk Village.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

In a matter of days, the massive “air stripping” system is expected to clean the cancer causing vinyl chloride out of the water in one well, and another week or so to clean it out of a second well.

Private contractor Jim Powell said village residents can expect to have vinyl chloride-free water, “From the first well, we hope by the beginning of next week. Monday would probably be best.”

Sauk Village resident Judy Cast said she doesn’t plan to start drinking the village’s tap water right away after the work is finished.

“I’ll wait and see what the testing says. I’m not taking anybody’s word for anything from this point in time,” Cast said.

Cast has lived in Sauk Village for almost a half century, and has been a thorn in the side of village officials for years.

She’s not happy about the cost of the project.

“We’re simple people in Sauk Village. We don’t have that kind of money, not the kind it’s going to cost us now,” Cast said.

The village is taking this approach because of orders from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the water immediately.

IEPA inspector Calvin Harris said state officials realize Sauk Village residents have been waiting for clean water for a long time.

“We’re trying to do everything that we can to ensure that they are able to get their water as soon as possible,” Harris said.

It’s been two weeks since the village first started handing out bottled water to residents, and advising them not to drink the tap water.

The vinyl chloride problem has been on the village’s radar for at least three years.

Officials hope to eventually cut a deal to bring Lake Michigan water to Sauk Village. That won’t be cheap, either. Some estimates say it could cost the cash-strapped suburb as much as $20 million.

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