University Park Residents Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner With Bottled Water After Months Of Lead Worries

Chicago News

UNIVERSITY PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Imagine preparing Thanksgiving dinner with bottled water because you don’t trust your tap.

As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported Thursday night, that was a reality for people in University Park this Thanksgiving. They’ve been under an advisory for months, ever since high lead levels were detected in June.

The water company Aqua Illinois said they dropped off extra cases of bottled water to residents for the holiday. That’s a special ingredient that Sheila Bradshaw would rather not use.

“It’s really hard to deal with,” the University Park resident said. “Especially when you’re cooking.”

Bradshaw’s home is one of more than 1,500 still under a lead advisory.

Aqua Illinois said people under the advisory can only consume their tap water if they first run it for a few minutes and filter it.
But even then, Bradshaw doesn’t trust it.

“I just think they (Aqua) are pretty much trying to push it on: ‘Okay, we’ll give you a case of water or two and you’ll be satisfied,’” Bradshaw said. “But I’m not.”

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A lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul against Aqua Illinois claims “changes the company made to the public water supply caused lead to be released.”

The company says the water chemistry is improving. Earlier this month, a spokesperson told CBS 2 at least 80 percent of the homes they were testing are now below the EPA threshold for lead.

“They say it’s improving, but if it hasn’t been lifted for our area, where is the improvement?” Bradshaw said.

Sarah Boyd is one of the lucky ones.

She got a letter saying her home is no longer under the advisory, yet Aqua is still dropping off bottled water for her.

She said she would be having Thanksgiving at her house but, to be safe, she’s taking the food she prepared with bottled water to her son’s house.

“This is still confusing, so I just don’t drink the water or cook with the water,” Boyd said.

There is still no timeline on when the issues will be resolved at all homes.

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