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Feds Want Galesburg to do More about Lead in Tap Water

Apr 26, 2016

Federal regulators suggested the city provide bottled water or filters to residents affected by high levels of lead in their drinking water.  The U.S Environmental Protection Agency also urged the city to pay for testing of lead for all water customers who request it.

In a letter written on April 20, Tinka Hyde of the EPA said the agency “will consider other options to protect public health” if the city doesn’t provide the water or filters.  The Associated Press reported on the letter in a follow up to its Tainted at the Tap story about lead in Galesburg's water.

Meanwhile, Galesburg aldermen met in a workshop session Monday evening to discuss what courses of action they could take to reduce lead levels in tap water. The Executive Director of the Knox County Health Department also participated in the meeting.

The city is already taking some steps to mitigate the problem, such as adding more phosphate to combat corrosion.

“Recently, when we met with a professor from University of Illinois, he recommended that we increase it after we failed in the fall,” City Engineer Wayne Carl told aldermen. “And so there is more phosphate in the system now than we’ve had before.”

Other ideas suggested to aldermen include providing assistance to homes to replace lead service lines at little or no cost, and reassessing the Knox County Lead Reduction Strategic Plan.

City Manager Todd Thompson said the city won’t make a firm decision on its plan until it gets a clearer picture of the situation.

“We need to see where the additional testing takes us. We need to see where our efforts to change the corrosion control program take us. And we need to see what the regulatory environment going to look like for us before we make decisions on what the best course of action is,” Thompson said.

Additional tap water samples were taken this month. The test results are expected to be released sometime next month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.