Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We remain committed to keeping you informed. We've compiled some commonly asked questions to address most inquiries. If you can't find the answer to your question below, please feel free to give us a call at 877.987.2782.
Are we any closer to a resolution?
Yes. Water quality in University Park has met state and federal drinking water benchmarks, also referred to as the compliance action level, for a year and a half as of December 2022. That means that for three consecutive six-month monitoring periods, the community’s water quality has achieved the same benchmark for water quality that is required for all other water systems across the country.
We believe that we have taken more samples than any water system in the nation to validate the treatment’s effectiveness, and the data continue to support that the treatment is working optimally for the community’s water system. This is encouraging news, and we thank our customers for the collaboration that has made this achievement possible. Looking ahead, we remain fully committed to prioritizing our customers’ well-being and will continue to be a good partner and resource while we work with the State on next steps.
What are Aqua Illinois’ next steps in the community?
We remain committed to safeguarding the water quality in University Park. Every step of the way, our response has been informed by data and science, and overall water quality has significantly improved under our treatment efforts.
We continue working with the State on a path forward that centers on customer well-being and water confidence. Customers can also continue to request free water sampling and in-home assistance by calling our customer service team at 877.987.2782.
What are the state and federal drinking water benchmarks?
State and federal drinking water regulations require that 90 percent of regularly sampled homes have water lead levels of 15 micrograms per liter (ug/L) or less as measured over six-month monitoring periods. For three consecutive six-month monitoring periods, from July 2021 through December 2022, water quality has met state and federal drinking water benchmarks, also referred to as the compliance action level. Sampling continues to support that the water treatment Aqua Illinois has been using to coat customers’ internal plumbing is working to preserve the water quality.
What does it mean if the treatment is working optimally or is "optimized"?
We have been working closely with regulators to confirm the treatment is as effective as possible for the water system. Regulations refer to this process as “optimizing” the treatment and optimization is evaluated over two consecutive monitoring periods. Water quality has met state and federal drinking water benchmarks for three consecutive monitoring periods, and this critical milestone supports that the water treatment Aqua Illinois has been using to coat customers’ internal plumbing is working to preserve the water quality.
Should I flush and filter before consuming tap water?
It is always a best practice in any water system to run tap water for a few minutes if it has not been used for several hours. This ensures that you are getting the freshest water from the main. We remain committed to rebuilding trust in the community. If you are concerned about internal lead plumbing in your home, you can request free water sampling by calling our customer service team at 877.987.2782. At your discretion, you can continue to flush and filter tap water before consumption by following these steps:
1. First, run cold tap water for two to three minutes when water has sat stagnant in internal plumbing, and
2. Filter cold tap water through faucet or pitcher filters that are certified to remove lead, like those Aqua Illinois
continues to offer.
After filtering cold tap water, you can heat it up before consumption if you prefer (for example, on the stove or in the microwave.)
Is Aqua Illinois still providing resources to customers?
Yes. Customers can continue to request free water sampling and in-home technical assistance by calling 877.987.2782. We continue to offer free resources – including bottled water, NSF-certified faucet and pitcher filters and filter replacements – at this time to eligible University Park customers throughout local distribution center.
What is in-home technical assistance?
Throughout this event, we have continually offered free in-home water assessments and water sampling to any University Park customers upon request. Designed to help you understand the water in your home, getting started is simple. Call 877.987.2782 to:
Schedule technical assistance. There has never been any lead in the source water or University Park infrastructure, but there is lead inside some customers’ home plumbing. An Aqua Illinois team member will assist you in taking steps to protect your household from lead, including cleaning your faucet aerator and using your filter.
Collect a water sample. You will receive step-by-step instructions so that your water can be tested by an independent, certified lab.
Receive 1:1 support. Once you receive results on your home’s plumbing and water quality, an Aqua Illinois team member will discuss what they mean with you, share water-use tips, and work with you to address your unique needs.
Why were only certain homes impacted?
Through our water sampling protocol, we know that hundreds of homes – both inside and outside of the advisory area – were never impacted by elevated lead levels in their water. That is because the source of the lead is not the source water or the University Park infrastructure. Instead, our investigation indicates that the source of lead is within individual home plumbing in a limited number of impacted homes. Many factors like water use, plumbing configuration and excess lead solder, to name a few, can impact how quickly and effectively the treatment can work in those homes.
Water treatments work to build a protective coating that prevents lead inside impacted homes’ internal plumbing from coming into contact with the fresh water flowing into those homes. If you are concerned about internal lead plumbing in your home, you can request free water sampling and in-home assistance by calling our customer service team at 877.987.2782.
How is Aqua Illinois working with state and federal regulators?
As a water provider, we are highly regulated. We have been and will continue to be in constant communication with both state and federal agencies every step of the way. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the IEPA and the Illinois Commerce Commission have laws and regulations in place to regulate drinking water.
What caused elevated lead levels?
It is important to note that neither Aqua Illinois’ University Park infrastructure nor the Kankakee River source water contain lead, but there is lead within some homes’ internal plumbing and faucet fixtures.
In 2016, customers expressed concerns about water hardness and discoloration caused by iron in the water. Aqua Illinois began addressing these concerns by investing $22 million to improve water quality and transition University Park from well water to softened and filtered water from the Kankakee River.
To date, we have identified that the likely cause of elevated lead levels in a limited number of homes is due to water chemistry interacting with lead solder and other lead sources in the internal plumbing of homes built prior to 1990. Homes built after 1990 are not expected to have lead solder because the use of lead solder was banned by law in the mid-1980s.
Experts continue to affirm that this situation could not have been predicted.
How did Aqua Illinois respond?
From the beginning, we have taken unprecedented and immediate action to prioritize our customers’ well-being. After discovering a lead action level exceedance in University Park in June 2019 following routine sampling, we immediate issued a precautionary advisory for the entire service area and began distributing resources – including bottled water, faucet and pitcher filter devices and filter replacements – along with frequent communications to the community. These sweeping actions have gone beyond any supplier in the nation and were neither required by law nor ordered by any State or federal government agency. We took these steps because we care about the community.
Within hours, we began working with national water chemistry experts and regulators to investigate and implement a new treatment plan. Treatments work to prevent lead inside customers’ plumbing from coming into contact with fresh water flowing into their homes. As part of our treatment efforts, we more than doubled our sampling pool, quadrupled the number of monthly samples, and completed in-home visits to clean and analyze faucet and plumbing fixtures – all efforts that go well beyond regulatory requirements. We also partnered with an independent, minority-owned firm to test customer-requested samples.
Overall water quality in the community has improved significantly and it continues to meet state and federal drinking water benchmarks, also referred to as the compliance action level. The data support that our treatment efforts are effective, and we will continue to monitor water quality consistent with the regulations and our permits,and support customers with water sampling and in-home assistance. Our customers’ well-being remains at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue doing all we can to be a good community partner.
Will Aqua Illinois continue to conduct regular water sampling?
Safeguarding the water quality remains a top priority, and we will continue to perform required sampling consistent with the regulations and our permits. Customers can also continue to request free water sampling and in-home assistance by calling our customer service team at 877.987.2782.
Do all water filters remove lead?
Through our comprehensive filter program, we have offered water filter pitchers, faucet filters and filter replacements that are certified by the NSF, an accredited third-party certification body that evaluates point-of-use drinking water filters for lead reduction, to remove lead in water and as recommended by the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These certified filters make it safe to consume the filtered water when the filters are used properly. Please follow all manufacturers’ instructions to ensure proper use.
According to federal regulators, only certain water filters reduce lead. You can view the EPA’s Consumer Tool for Identifying Point-of-Use Drinking Water Filters Certified to Reduce Lead here: https://www.epa.gov/water-research/consumer-tool-identifying-pou-drinking-water-filters-certified-reduce-lead.
Where can I access Aqua Illinois’ water sampling results?
We are committed to full transparency with our customers, which is why we have been sharing regular reports on the “Data Updates” page of WaterFactsIL.com so the community can track our progress with us.
In addition, sample results are available to the public on the IEPA’s website. Below are instructions on how to find them. If you have any difficulties accessing this information, please call 877.987.2782 and we will be happy to assist.
Instructions for accessing water sample results on the IEPA website
Go to the agency’s homepage at https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/Pages/default.aspx and follow these steps:
1. Click on Drinking Water Watch
2. Enter the Water System No. (IL1975030)
3. Click on the ID hyperlink.
4. Click on Chem/Rad Samples/Results by Analyte
5. Click on the Analyte code for lead 1030
To see the 90th percentile value for lead, repeat steps 1-3, then click on Lead and Copper Summary Results. (Note: The DS2 code means this is University Park data.)