Imagine exclusively using bottled water for cooking, drinking, and bathing. Now, imagine doing that for six years. This is what residents of Flint, Michigan have been going through as people had to completely shift their routines to avoid using tap water after it was found to contain high levels of lead. Filling up the bathtub with boiled water can be an extremely tiresome task, and cooking with bottled water becomes costly. These daily inconveniences don’t even fully describe how this water crisis affected Flint’s people. The emotional turmoil will remain in Flint residents’ hearts forever.
Flint is not alone in this tragedy–the crisis of lead-contaminated drinking water has started spreading across the country. In recent years, residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Newark, New Jersey were alerted to lead contamination in their drinking water. Most recently, residents of University Park, Illinois, a village about 40 miles outside of Chicago, have been told not to drink the water in their city.
University Park, IL Lead Contamination
How would you react if you received a letter telling you not to drink the water from your sink? This was the experience of 2,400 University Park residents just last year. Aqua Illinois, the water supplier in the suburb, conducts regular testing every six months to check for elevated lead levels. After detecting elevated levels in June 2019, Aqua sent out a “do not consume” advisory and began a treatment process for the contamination.
How Did Lead Get into University Park’s Drinking Water?
In many states, homes built before 1990 may be at risk of lead-contaminated drinking water. This is because water pipes were previously built with lead, which can start to deteriorate over time and leach into the water flowing through them.
According to a lawsuit against Aqua, the water supplier allegedly switched the water source from groundwater wells to the Kankakee River in 2017. Lead testing took effect every 6 months after they made this switch. When residents complained the new water had an unpleasant taste, Aqua added a chemical mix to University Park’s water. Aqua allegedly did this without receiving the requisite permit from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, making the switch even more dangerous. The lawsuit claimed both of these changes “resulted in the removal of a protective layer in residential plumbing throughout the Village, causing lead to leach into the water.” It also claimed Aqua didn’t test the water until eight months after making these changes rather than six.
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Impact on University Park Residents
University Park residents were outraged by the carelessness of the company. They had to completely change the way they cooked meals, brushed their teeth, cleaned dishes, and more. Yet, they were told to just trust Aqua’s new treatment process for the lead contamination. Around the time the company sent out the “do not consume” order for University Park’s water, it implemented a treatment to add a protective coating to the lead pipes in order to prevent lead from seeping into them. Soon after, they lifted the “do not consume” order for residents with houses built after 1990, however that still left 1,500 customers in older homes without clean water, a basic human right.
Lead’s Harmful Impact on Children
The issue of lead-contaminated water is not only an inconvenience to affected residents, but can leave children with permanent neurological issues. Drinking water with high levels of lead should be avoided at all costs, especially for children. Even at low levels, lead can impair children’s brain development. The Flint Water Crisis caused 80% of affected children to need special education services. At higher levels of exposure, lead can cause convulsions, comas, and even death. Unfortunately, University Park children might’ve drunk this lead-contaminated water for at least two years before the “do not consume” order was put in place. University Park parents should get their children’s blood tested for elevated lead levels.
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Pintas & Mullins Can Help
If your child experienced developmental issues from lead-contaminated water, let our team of experienced lawyers assist you in filing a legal claim. We have helped thousands of Flint citizens who were affected by the water crisis, and are determined to pursue the same justice for the families of University Park. Call us for a free legal consultation today at (800) 934-6555. You don’t need any money to hire us, and we don’t get paid unless we secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
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