By Tara Molina


UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Cookouts, parties, and family dinners were pretty common this Labor Day, but they’re running differently in University Park.

As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, many families in the south suburb still can’t trust their running water. And they have been going without safe, lead-free running water all summer, but never saw this continuing all the way into Labor Day weekend.

And they’ve had it.

The Reeves family had everything they need to celebrate a birthday with family and friends on Monday. There was plenty of food and fun – with a bouncy house set up. There was bottled water to make Kool-Aid for the kids.

And there was also a warning for all the guests.

“Don’t drink out the faucet, you know, or press my ice cubes to get ice, because it might have lead in it,” said Cheralle Reeves.

Since early June, families like the Reeves have relied on weekly water deliveries to drink, cook, clean, and brush their teeth for their own health.

There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lead exposure can lead to irreversible brain damage and long-term consequences in children.

“I have to constantly watch her because she likes to drink water and stuff, especially in the tub,” Reeves said of her daughter. “So I’m like, ‘No, no.’”

Their water provider, Aqua Illinois, is now facing a lawsuit alleging it failed to comply with monitoring and sampling requirements and violated construction and operating permit requirements.

Molina was told there is no timeline on a total fix as of Monday night.

“They just left us up in the air; keeping telling us that they’re resolving it, they’re resolving it,” Reeves said.

And another talk of Reeves’ party was the notice families got about billing.

Those impacted haven’t paid water bills in June or July, but Aqua just announced it will charge residents a separate sewer bill for August and moving forward.

That news was not received well in a house warning its guests about dangerous tap water.

“I think we shouldn’t have to pay for nothing, because it’s still a big inconvenience,” Reeves said.

According to Aqua, things are improving and impacted residents can drink and use their tap water if they run the water for two to three minutes and then use specialized filters.

“As a reminder, you can consume your tap water while under the advisory if you take the proper protective steps, which include running cold tap water for two to three minutes and then filtering cold tap water through faucet filters or pitcher filters certified by the NSF to remove lead,” Aqua said in a community update issued this past Friday. “If you haven’t already, we recommend impacted customers watch our video tutorial outlining these steps.”

But University Park families said they would not be taking that chance.

Tara Molina