South Chicago Wells

South Chicago Area

Outreach Initiative Regarding Testing of Private Wells

Includes Chicago Heights, South Chicago Heights and Steger areas

Background

Illinois EPA, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Cook County Department of Public Health are encouraging owners of private wells in developed areas (where there is a potential for chemical contamination) to have their wells tested.

House Resolution (HR) 1010, adopted June, 2004 by the Illinois General Assembly, encourages the Illinois EPA to establish a Right-to-Know Committee and to get citizens’ input on the best way to notify residents who may be exposed to contamination from air, land or water. In keeping with the spirit of the resolution, Illinois EPA and the state and local health departments met with citizens to develop this educational outreach project to notify private well owners about potential contamination.

Please note: If you use a public water supply for your source of drinking water, your water should not be affected. Public water supplies come from both Lake Michigan water and groundwater. However, a public water supply must treat the source water to get rid of contaminants that are found at levels greater than levels for safe drinking water that are set by federal regulations. Water supplies used for Chicago Heights, South Chicago Heights and Steger routinely test for contamination, and they meet these federal standards at which water is considered safe to drink and no adverse health effects are expected.

Areas of Concern

Public Availability Session

Private Wells and Groundwater Quality

Tuesday, July 26, 2005
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

at Steger Village Hall
35 W. 34th Street

Steger, Illinois

This notification is based on information Illinois EPA has found while investigating, monitoring and working on two landfill sites in the Chicago Heights/South Chicago Heights area. Tests from groundwater and surface water at one landfill site showed levels of vinyl chloride greater than state Class I groundwater standards - the state standards that are designed to protect groundwater for use as drinking water.

Vinyl chloride is from a family of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are common man-made chemicals found in cleaning solvents, gasoline and oil. These chemicals can travel in groundwater long distances from where they were spilled or dumped.

Vinyl chloride was also found in South Chicago Heights’ municipal well #3 in the late 1980s at a level greater than the Class I Groundwater Standard - which is 2 parts per billion. An example of a part per billion concentration is a teaspoon of a chemical in a volume of water the size of a city water tower. South Chicago Heights stopped using well #3 after this event. The city stopped using groundwater wells and began buying lake water from Chicago Heights in 2000.

Since then, Illinois EPA tested five private wells in the area during the work that was done to close the two problem landfill sites. Two well results showed low levels of VOCs. The VOC levels found were less than the federal standards for safe public drinking water supplies and also within the state groundwater standards. No adverse health effects are expected at those low levels. However, the Agency wants to fully inform area citizens about possible threats to groundwater quality.

If you have a private well, you may want to consider having the well tested for volatile organic compounds Enclosed is a list of laboratories that are approved for testing your water for this group of chemicals. Also enclosed are directions for taking a sample of your well water to have it tested for VOCs, if you choose to do take the sample on your own.

Public Meeting/Workshop - Illinois EPA, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Cook County Department of Public Health will hold an educational workshop in Steger on Tuesday, July 26, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Illinois EPA staff, along with representatives from the state and county health agencies, will answer questions about the quality of well water and about having sampling done. In addition, representatives from area labs will be on hand to answer questions about water testing procedures. The meeting will be at the Steger Village Hall at 35 W. 34th Street.

For further information, you may contact:

Carol Fuller
Community Relations Coordinator
Office of Community Relations
(217) 524-8807