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. 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. Water samples confirm overall water quality in University Park continues to improve and is meeting state and federal drinking water benchmarks for the most recent sampling period, which included the months of July through December 2021.
This is encouraging news, and we thank our customers for the collaboration that has made this achievement possible. Looking ahead, we remain as committed as ever to prioritizing our customers’ well-being and working with you on the long-term resolution.
January 2022 will mark the start of a new six-month monitoring period and regulatory water sampling will continue. We will continue working with regulators to confirm the treatment is as effective as possible for the water system based on other important water quality aspects, like water pH. Regulations refer to this as “optimizing” the treatment. We appreciate your partnership with us and the State on this important sampling program.
Should I continue to 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 are encouraged 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 should I expect on water and sewer bills?
Standard sewer billing processes are in place or University Park customers and standard water billing resumes on Jan. 14, 2022. Customers can call 877.987.2782 with any additional questions about bills, including financial assistance and payment plan options.
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 is in-home technical assistance so important?
Customers who have worked with us on water sampling and in-home technical assistance have helped inform the science and our treatment protocol, contributing to significant overall water quality improvements in the community. We thank these customers for their cooperation and contribution to our progress.
Lead is not present in the source water or University Park infrastructure, but some homes have lead in their internal plumbing materials. We remain committed to working with customers to assess individual home water quality and provide customized support.
We encourage all customers in the advisory area who have questions about lead plumbing in their homes to call us today at 877.987.2782 to schedule free in-home assistance.
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.
January 2022 will mark the start of a new six-month monitoring period and regulatory water sampling will continue. We will continue working with regulators to confirm the treatment is as effective as possible for the water system based on other important water quality aspects, like water pH. Regulations refer to this as “optimizing” the treatment. We appreciate your partnership with us and the State on this important sampling program. As always, Aqua Illinois remains committed to full transparency and cooperation and will continue providing updates and guidance.
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 the data indicate that our treatment efforts are effective. We continue to monitor water quality, partner with customers on water sampling and in-home assistance, and gauge our treatment’s effectiveness based on Illinois regulations and routine water sampling data. Our customers’ health and safety remain at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue doing all we can to be a good community partner while building on progress toward the long-term resolution. Our customers’ ongoing cooperation is vital to our success in the community.
Will Aqua Illinois continue to conduct regular water sampling?
As we continue building on our progress, 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.)