(CBS) – A suburban Chicago mother feels a real connection to the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

“For these people to switch the water supply over the health and the lives of the people is unconscionable,” Tricia Krause tells CBS 2’s Mike Parker. “It was similar to what the residents of Crestwood and I have gone through.”

For 12 years, until 2007, the EPA found that the southwest suburban village knowingly mixed its supply of lake water with cancer-causing vinyl chloride that was leaking into a well along Tinley Creek.

Krause helped uncover the scandal, after her  children all developed rare forms of cancer. Last fall, she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“It was very frightening, and unfortunately now it’s going to plague me for the rest of my life. That water was very contaminated, so we were guinea pigs,” she says.

The village has reached a $15 million settlement with 360 families, including Krause’s. But the current mayor says he drank the water and never got sick.

“The worst thing that we did, the village did, was falsified numbers,” Mayor Lou Presta says.

Of the settlement, he says: “It was cheaper for us to settle 360 cases than to go fight it. The lawyers told us it would be half a million dollars a case to go to trial.”

The Crestwood settlement checks could be distributed to the residents as early as next week.