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Fact Sheet 1

Initial Site Overview

Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project

October 1989

Rockford, Illinois

What is the problem?

The Illinois Department of Public Health has tested over 100 private wells in the area bounded by Harrison Avenue, 21st Street, Sawyer Road, and 8th Street. Test results show that many of these private wells are contaminated with industrial solvents indicating contaminated groundwater (water beneath the ground) in the area.

Is my water safe?

If you use water from the public water supply for all purposes including watering your garden, watering your lawn, and bathing, your water is safe. The public water supply is tested regularly for the industrial solvents and is not distributed to the public if contaminants exceed acceptable levels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is initiating an extensive sampling of private wells within the site boundaries. If sample results indicate contaminants above the USEPA response level, the USEPA will provide bottled water.

How did industrial solvents get into the groundwater?

The source (or sources) of industrial solvents in southeast Rockford groundwater is unknown. These solvents, also known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are used and have been used in the past by many industries for such things as degreasing machinery and dry cleaning.

Can my well water be cleaned up in the near future?

No. The source (or sources) of groundwater contamination must first be identified and removed or the contaminants will continue to seep into the groundwater even as it is cleaned.

Once the source (or sources) is removed, the groundwater must be treated through some method such as pumping it out of the ground and allowing the VOCs to evaporate from the water. Groundwater moves slowly through soil, sand, and gravel so treatment of contamination can take several years.

What is being done to provide a permanent supply of safe water for residents with contaminated water?

The IEPA is seeking a safe supply of water for residents who have contaminated water. Alternatives being considered include the following:

  1. Whole house carbon units. Whole house carbon units remove VOCs from all the water used in the household. Whole house carbon units, however, require ongoing maintenance. These units must be properly maintained to prevent chemical break-through or bacterial buildup.

  2. Extension of the public water main. This option provides a permanent solution. Residents hooked up to the public water supply may have to become part of the city and would have to have their private wells plugged so the wells do not become an additional source of groundwater contamination.

What is being done to find the source of groundwater contamination?

The site has been listed on the federal Superfund list of sites eligible for federal money for investigation and remedy. The IEPA has begun planning for the investigation and expects to start on-site work, such as installation of monitoring wells, in the late winter or early spring.

Has the IEPA placed a ban on home mortgage or home improvement loans in the area?

No. The IEPA has no authority over home mortgage or home improvement loans in the area. Decisions banks have made about loans have been made independently of the IEPA and without the IEPA's recommendations.

For Additional Information

Tammy Mitchell

Community Relations Coord.

Illinois EPA

1021 N. Grand Ave. E.

Box 19276

Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276

Phone: 217-524-2292
Thomas Williams

Project Manager

Illinois EPA

1021 N. Grand Ave. E.

Box 19276

Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276

Phone: (815) 223-1714