University Park residents still without usable running water during heat wave

UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Many residents in University Park still do not have usable running water during the heat wave that began Friday.

More than a month ago high levels of lead were detected in the village's water. Those lead levels have still not been completely rectified.

Deborah Stroud is one of roughly 1,500 residents of the south suburb not able to use their tap water to bathe, cook, or drink, after Aqua Illinois issued a do not consume advisory due to elevated lead levels.

"A case of water delivered to the house. How do I sustain off one case of water?" she wondered.

With temperatures hovering in the 90s and heat indices above 100, the retiree said she'll be spending most of Friday at the gym to survive the sweltering heat.

RELATED: University Park residents' frustration grows over high lead levels in water

Aqua Illinois said they hope to clear more homes off the list in the next few weeks. They blame a chemical they were using to treat pipes for causing lead to dissolve into the water inside older homes.

"It's a treatment process and treatment is not an exact science," said Craig Blanchette, president of Aqua Illinois. "Sometimes you see progress in one week and there might not be as much progress in the next week."

Blanchette said they've changed their treatment method which, along with flushing pipes for two to three minutes before use and using a water filter, should now make the water safe.
RELATED: Elevated lead levels in water first detected in August 2018, Aqua Illinois president says

Some residents who protested outside the utility's Kankakee headquarters don't believe that.

"If they don't want the water in my home, what makes them think I want in on my body, in my hair, in my mouth, in my body - I don't," said Cynthia Hudson, a University Park resident. "I value my life whether Aqua values our lives or not."

"We are here on the grounds of Aqua to let Aqua know that we are fed up and up and upset with the way we have been handled, and the way we have been dealt with," said Pastor Moses Herring, Faith Movers Church.

RELATED: University Park residents express anger, fear over lead-contaminated water

According to the website of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, lead compounds with the exception of organic cannot move through water and therefore are absorbed through the skin. That is little comfort for residents who are short on patience and trust.

"I'm like every other resident in this community, we're all in doubt, in a panic, in fear," Stroud said.
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