Lawmaker seeks state report on lead in water

On the heels of findings that 70 percent of suburban drinking water systems recorded some levels of lead during testing over the past three years, Barrington Hills Republican state Rep. David McSweeney is calling for a full report on the safety of the state's water supplies by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

McSweeney filed a joint resolution this week requesting the state agency charged with monitoring public water systems compile a comprehensive report by the end of the year.

"It's the No. 1 responsibility of government to ensure the public safety and this is a reasonable request that we need to make sure the drinking water is safe and we have full transparency," he said.

Public water systems in the state are tested for lead every three years and unless more than 10 percent of the samples come back with lead levels in excess of 15 parts per billion in a liter of water, there is no further testing. The results of those tests are vaguely listed to residents in an annually mandated "Consumer Confidence Report," along with results of testing for other contaminants.

A Daily Herald investigation in March revealed samples as high as 720 parts per billion were recorded in some suburbs, and close neighbors with homes of similar construction were not notified of these results. Most lead contamination is caused by older plumbing lines and fixtures.

"More information made available to the public can only be a good thing," McSweeney said.

IEPA officials said they are aware of McSweeney's request.

Anyone concerned about potential lead contamination in their water is urged to get it tested. In the meantime, health officials suggest letting the water run for several minutes before using it to cook or drink or purchase a certified filtration system.

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