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updated: 10/17/2011 9:32 PM

St. Charles water fight continues

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Legal documents continue to conflict with public statements made by a St. Charles man who had pledged to never drink city water.

St. Charles officials confirmed Monday night that an attorney for Cliff McIlvaine sent a letter to the city promising McIlvaine will fulfill a court order requiring him to give up drinking from a rainwater cistern hooked to his home's plumbing.

City officials believe McIlvaine's cistern is contaminated because it collects water that runs down a roof where animals may defecate and then down a gutter system with joints that may contain lead.

McIlvaine recently made public statements that he'd never drink city water because it is treated with chemicals, such as chlorine, that are much more harmful than rain falling from the sky.

But City Administrator Brian Townsend said Monday he doesn't really care if McIlvaine wants to drink rainwater. He just doesn't want any of McIlvaine's cistern system sharing pipes with city water.

"If he wants to collect rainwater in a barrel every day and take a cup of water, that's fine," Townsend said. "It's just much more safe and more secure for the rest of our customers to not have Cliff McIlvaine potentially contaminating our system."

The city council took a vote Monday reaffirming their commitment to fulfilling the court order. Townsend said the vote was a mere formality and not meant to send a message to McIlvaine.

However, Townsend said the city will follow up with inspections to make sure McIlvaine switches the plumbing in his home so the cistern can't be used for anything but flushing a toilet. If he violates the agreement, the city will seek retroactive fines that could total thousands of dollars. Townsend said the city also may ask a judge to revoke the occupancy permit on McIlvaine's residence if the agreement is violated. That would result in McIlvaine being kicked out of his own home.

The court order requires McIlvaine to complete the plumbing changes by March 19, 2012. Townsend said a recent inspection of the ongoing construction at the home shows McIlvaine is so far fulfilling the other portions of the court order with regard to his roof repairs, garage construction and home addition.

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