City of Chicago sued over possible lead in drinking water

WLS logo
Thursday, February 18, 2016
A running faucet is shown in this undated file photo.
A running faucet is shown in this undated file photo.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago was slapped with a class action lawsuit Thursday over possible lead contamination in the water.

The group claims the city knowingly did construction work that disturbs the city's aging water pipes. The claim the brittle pipes that are disturbed can emit lead into the water.

The complaint also claims the city hasn't properly warned residents of the lead risks.

In response to the lawsuit, Gary Litherland, a spokesperson for Chicago's Department of Water Management, said: "While we have not yet reviewed the lawsuit, Chicago's water is safe and exceeds federal, state and industry standards. The Department of Water Management provides the cleanest, best tasting water possible; aggressive programs that protect our water supply from lead and thorough testing methods allow us to continually achieve this goal."

After a water main is installed, Litherland said the department has "long advised residents to flush their services lines." When a water meter is installed, Litherland said the city performs the flushing for the resident.

"As an additional precaution, we have long advised residents to run their water for a few minutes to flush their pipes if water hasn't been used for several hours. This can easily be accomplished by a shower, laundry, or by flushing the toilet," Litherland said.

Litherland said the city uses phosphate to form a coating on lead pipes to prevent lead or other materials from leaching into the water. He said residents can also call 311 to request additional, free water testing at their address if they have concerns about water quality.