Lester: Why Elgin won't have water problems like Flint

  • Elgin Water Director Kyla Jacobsen, right, leads former Elgin City Manager Leo Nelson on a tour of the city's Riverside Drive Water Treatment Plant.

    Elgin Water Director Kyla Jacobsen, right, leads former Elgin City Manager Leo Nelson on a tour of the city's Riverside Drive Water Treatment Plant. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Former Elk Grove Township Supervisor Nanci Vanderweel retired in 2013 after nearly 28 years with the township. Daughter Kitty is a political consultant, now working with Republican Cook County state's attorney hopeful Christopher Pfannkuche.

      Former Elk Grove Township Supervisor Nanci Vanderweel retired in 2013 after nearly 28 years with the township. Daughter Kitty is a political consultant, now working with Republican Cook County state's attorney hopeful Christopher Pfannkuche. MADHU KRISHNAMURTHY | Staff Photographer

  • Gilbert Galvan was charged with retail theft for stealing liquor from a Barrington grocery store.

    Gilbert Galvan was charged with retail theft for stealing liquor from a Barrington grocery store.

 
 
Updated 1/25/2016 10:15 AM

There are some parallels between Elgin and Flint, Michigan, on the surface. Both are older, diverse cities with industrial roots. And both tap into a local river for their drinking water.

But in the wake of revelations of toxic lead levels in Flint's water, Elgin's longtime water director insists it's unlikely for such a crisis to develop in her town because of safeguards implemented over the last 30 years. She also points to treatment the water gets before it leaves the plant, "softening" it so it won't absorb lead that could leach from the pipes of older homes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're stabilizing the water so it's not aggressive; that's the first thing that should reassure people," Kyla Jacobsen said, noting that wasn't done when Flint began getting its water from the Flint River in 2014.

"We haven't changed water sources, and we continue to treat and do testing to prove that our treatment is doing what it's supposed to do," Jacobsen says.

Local responsibilities

Jacobsen says in nearly 30 years, not one of Elgin's water tests done with flushed water has shown unsafe levels of lead. To make sure the water is safe when it goes out to people throughout the city, as well as to Bartlett and Sleepy Hollow, which purchase Elgin water, Jacobsen says the supply is checked at the water plant every two hours. Every six months, the city compiles a report and submits it to the state's Environmental Protection Agency. Residents with concerns can have tests conducted that will be analyzed by the city.

Meanwhile

City of Chicago Department of Water Management spokesman Gary Litherland also tells me that there have been no complaints or questions about lead in the city's water following the Flint scandal. Chicago supplies Lake Michigan water to more than 100 suburbs. Other suburbs near Lake Michigan, including Winnetka, Highland Park and Evanston, produce their own supplies.

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On the GOP side

While much attention has been paid to the three-way Democratic primary for Cook County state's attorney, Republican operative Kitty Vanderweel Weiner tells me she's doing some work with Christopher Pfannkuche, the GOP candidate in the race. Weiner, who worked for years for U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton, is the daughter of Nanci Vanderweel, the former longtime Elk Grove Township supervisor. Pfannkuche, a Chicago native, was an assistant state's attorney for three decades and is a former law professor.

Today's selfie: Republican state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard and his wife, Margie, participated in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Friday while waiting for the impending massive snowstorm to hit the East Coast.
Today's selfie: Republican state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard and his wife, Margie, participated in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Friday while waiting for the impending massive snowstorm to hit the East Coast. - courtesy of Peter Breen
Today's selfie

Republican state Rep. Peter Breen of Lombard and his wife, Margie, participated in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Friday while waiting for the impending massive snowstorm to hit the East Coast.

New semester at COD

Today's the start of a new semester at College of DuPage, and officials tell me enrollment is up by 2 percent with more than 30,000 students attending classes at the state's largest community college. That's in spite of ongoing drama involving the board and administration, as well as a two-year probation by the Higher Learning Commission.

Easier divorce?

Did you know about a new Illinois law that aims to make the divorce process less of a blame game? As of Jan. 1, the only grounds for divorce in the state are irreconcilable differences. There's also no more "custody" (the word has been replaced with the phrase "parental responsibility"). And the word "visitation" has been officially replaced with "parenting time." The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. John Mulroe and state Rep. Kelly Burke, both Chicago Democrats. Mulroe, a former prosecutor in the Cook County state's attorney's office, said tweaks to the legislation took nearly five years. "While I'm not a divorce attorney, I probably could be one by now," he laughed. Mulroe is uncontested in this spring's primary and represents parts of Niles, Des Plaines, Rosemont and Park Ridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Miles and Miles

Many of you follow my colleague, Cubs beat writer Bruce Miles, but did you know his daughter is a registrar for exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago? Liz Miles Rudnick, a Coe College graduate and resident of Des Plaines, works on bringing exhibitions into the museum. Recent work includes "The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now" and "Kathryn Andrews: Run for President." Liz and I for years played on the same women's softball team, named after the beloved late Daily Herald editor Audrey Howard.

"Flying Bandit"

Barrington Police Det. Kevin Croke is making an appearance on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show "The Fifth Estate" for his work arresting Gilbert Galvan, known as the "Flying Bandit," the most prolific bank robber in Canadian history. Croke arrested Galvan last spring for shoplifting alcohol from the Barrington Jewel-Osco. He was interviewed by host Mark Kelley last week.

The show will air on the CBC network Jan. 29 and online at http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/.

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