CHICAGO (CBS)– Hundreds of south suburban families have been left with no tap water to drink for over a week. Elevated lead levels were found in their water and the University Park residents want answers.
Representatives for Aqua Illinois admitted to noticing a change last august, almost a full year ago.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
Recent tests reveal several homes in this area have water above the federal limit for lead levels, including one with over 100 times the acceptable amount.
Standing room only in University Park Saturday when hundreds filled a room looking for answers, a week after their water was deemed unsafe to drink due to lead levels above EPA standards.
“If I’m taking in lead, then my baby’s taking in lead,” resident Emiko Kyle said.
Kyle has a little one in her arms and another on the way, due next month.
Her home is one of 1,500 under a “do not consume” water advisory.
“I feel afraid, I feel concerned about the well-being of my children,” Kyle said.
Representatives for Aqua Illinois addressed a crowded room, admitting they first noticed an elevation in lead levels last august.
“But they still met EPA standards,” Craig Blanchette, president of Aqua Illinois said.
The Aqua Illinois president told CBS 2 the water was still safe to drink at the time.
The water company, did not alert customers, but instead tried to fix the issue by changing the chemical treatment.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
The problem persisted.
“There were adjustments to our process that we and industry experts felt would help us lower the lead levels, although they were within limits,” Blanchette said.
Blanchette said the water wasn’t tested again until this May, almost a year later.
Results show lead used to connect copper pipes in homes built before 1986 is affecting the water flowing from the faucet.
“They say do not consume, this is what’s going on,” University Park Mayor Joseph Rudez said.
University Park Rudez is also affected by the advisory.
“I’m going to hire an independent minority firm to go out and do the water sampling,” he said.
While Rudez works to hire an outside firm, Blanchette is trying to reaffirm his company’s reputation.
“I don’t, I don’t expect them to have that confidence,” he said. “It’s up to us to regain their confidence.”
Aqua illinois is asking customers to run faucets in their homes to help with a new treatment process they hope will reduce lead levels, but could take weeks to show results.MORE NEWS: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
The company is also waiving water bills for the month of June.