Subdivision told it's unlikely to get
water from lake
By Robert Channick
Special to the Chicago Tribune
Published December 14th, 2004
A standing-room-only crowd that packed the Wauconda Township
offices Monday learned it is unlikely that a subdivision
would get Lake Michigan water to solve problems with contaminated
well water, a process that would take years and cost millions
But residents of Hillcrest also were told that within
90 days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects
to have a plan detailing how they could be hooked up to
village well water.
Village officials assured residents that they could supply
well water within the year.
Federal officials also said testing would expand to wells
in neighboring subdivisions.
Residents have been looking for answers since September
2003, when the carcinogen vinyl chloride was found in
well water at Hillcrest, which is near a Superfund landfill
An EPA study in January found widespread contamination,
with 81 of 121 wells sampled containing vinyl chloride,
which is believed to have leached from the nearby 74-acre
Wauconda Sand and Gravel Landfill, which closed in 1978.
Vinyl chloride is used to make plastic. It can cause cancer.
Last month, outgoing U.S. Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.), a
Wauconda resident, proposed a bill seeking increased testing
and monitoring, bottled water for residents within 1.5
miles of the site and development of a long-term solution
by connecting the region to Lake Michigan water.
Many of the residents in the 150-home subdivision have
formed a group called Clean Water NOW. They say they want
federal money to hook up their homes to Lake Michigan
Karen Thoren-Day, 55, said Monday she would like to see
the bottled-water program expanded to include homes with
wells that were not shown to have contamination.
"It's been one year since we found out about this,
and I haven't seen a bottle of water," she said.
The meeting was organized by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
and Rep.-elect Melissa Bean, Crane's successor in the
8th Congressional District.
Durbin didn't give residents much cause for optimism
about getting water from Lake Michigan.
"What I've heard about Lake Michigan makes me believe
it's a long, long shot, difficult politically and extremely
expensive," he said.
Bean said the well-water issue will be a priority when
she takes office in January.
"I think it's important for people right now who
want to know that they're drinking safely while waiting
for test results," she said.
More than a year ago, routine testing of the well water
by the Lake County Health Department showed trace amounts
of vinyl chloride. The EPA opened an investigation into
possible sources of contamination, including the Superfund