considers switch to lake water
faces radium deadline
courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
October 24, 2001
Facing a federal deadline to remove radium from the village
water supply, Plainfield Village Board members this week
said they were leaning toward abandoning the current deep
well system and bringing in Lake Michigan water.
The village has three options to comply with the Environmental
Protection Agency's order to remove the radium by December
2003: install a central ion exchange system that softens
the water; install a lime softening system; or pump in
Lake Michigan water through Citizens Water Resources Co.
In January, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
granted the village a Lake Michigan water allocation,
making the third option possible.
Each of the options would result in higher water bills.
The ion exchange system would raise the average monthly
household bill from $19.70 to $32; Lake Michigan water
would raise it to $44.80; and the lime softening treatment
would raise it to $53.40.
All of the options would provide soft water from the tap,
said Steve Larson, vice president of Baxter & Woodman
Consulting Engineers, the Mokena firm serving as Plainfield's
Trustees agreed lime softening was too expensive.
"And then you still have to drill 15 more wells [for
the ion exchange]. It seems to me that Lake Michigan
water is the way to go," said Village Trustee John Cherry.
The village must commit itself to a timetable by Dec.
15 to comply with EPA regulations, Baxter & Woodman
Last December, federal EPA regulators declined to increase
the allowable amount of radium in water and issued an
order limiting the element to 5 picocuries per liter.
On average, Plainfield's well water contains 9 picocuries
In addition to radium, the village must consider the source
of water and its limited supply, said Larry Thomas, vice
president of engineering for Baxter & Woodman.
To keep up with growth, the village will have to drill
a new well every three years. By 2020, the village would
need 15 deep wells to keep up with demand, said Derek
Wold, project engineer for Baxter & Woodman.
Surrounding communities are in the same situation as Plainfield
and use the same aquifer. Use will eventually deplete
"It is not necessarily going to be the source of water
in the future. Using the deep sandstone wells is only
an interim solution," Thomas said.
Trustee Stephen Calabrese said cost is only part of the
"My main concern is . . . where is the village going to
be in the future? I am worried about our supply 40 to
50 years from now. Seems to me, in my opinion we need
to go with Lake Michigan water," Calabrese said.
"If we do the ion exchange system, we are just putting
off the problem for 20 years. From everything I've read
and seen, I'm leaning toward Lake Michigan water," Trustee
Ron Swalwell said. "Furthermore, the village's Lake Michigan
water allocation will be lost if not used."
Thomas said, "I'm not aware of any community that is sorry
they have [Lake Michigan water]. I know that
there are communities that are sorry they haven't used
Engineers will return to the Village Board with a recommendation.