Berwyn Tests Positive For Lead in Water

by Cory Lesniak

Berwyn residents are in the midst of a year of testing for lead in their water after high levels of toxic lead had appeared in their water lines for the second time in four years.

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) the City of Berwyn has exceeded lead in 1992, 2011 and most recently in 2014. After the last round of tests by the city Some Berwyn water customers received a flyer explaining the problem in November, according to Kim Biggs, a spokeswoman for the IEPA said.

The IEPA has given Berwyn until Oct. 1 to identify the lead service lines and remove 7 percent of the lines they own. Berwyn’s water comes from the City of Chicago but the pipes the water flows through is to blame.

“Many of the service lines may be owned by homeowners, so the city would not be responsible for removing those lines,” said Dave McMilan, manager of the Division of Public Water Supply at the IEPA.

Additionally, Berwyn has to take and test 60 waters samples for lead and copper in the first six months of 2015 according to the IEPA.

Berwyn officials say they’ve already been doing the testing.

“The program absolutely exists, we’re full blown into it. We do the advance sampling (30 to 60) samples. Anyone with a water tap or a water meter by law must receive one of these mailers (pamphlets),” said Kristofer Hasman, Water Plant Operator for City of Berwyn said.

The City of Berwyn has always added a chemical called orthophosphate to the water. Berwyn pumps this chemical into the water system to limit lead and copper, which is normal according to the IEPA.

“It provides a barrier on the interior of the pipe so that the water doesn’t react with any lead in the pipe or copper in the pipe. It forms a chemical liner. That is a requirement in their (Berwyn) situation that’s part of their program of less copper,” McMilan said.

Nearly 95 percent of homes in Berwyn have lead service lines. The IEPA is asking Berwyn to rip some of the old lead ones out and bring in brand new copper, which according to Hasman, Berwyn does anyway. Berwyn is in the middle of testing homes now.

“I have a list of 60 homes that I need to sample from. I am in the process of dropping off bottles at those homes. I have until June 30 to collect those samples from all 60,” Hasman said.

Hasman hopes to have 15 done at the end of February and another 15 at the end of March.

Infants and children who drink water-containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.

Any residents who are worried about their water and would like to have their water-tested privately should contact Suburban Laboratories to test their water for lead which is mentioned on the pamphlet sent out to homeowners and is approved by the state.

“I would refer them to our website it would be $25 for lead. The customer would choose from many options. They could pick up the bottle fill it up and mail it too us. We would then mail back the results,” Patrick Rodriguez, customer service manager at Suburban Laboratories said.

Hasman encourages residents to run their cold water for 30 seconds to get rid of any stagnant lead or copper that may be sitting in the pipes overnight or while at work.

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