Pollution and the Chicago Region’s Water Supply

by Alexa Pateras for SUST 210 online

While it is popular belief that Chicago and its surrounding suburbs have a clean and healthy water supply, that is not always the entire truth. According to the SSF blog post “Water Quality in Chicago and Schaumburg” from August 2011, the water supply for Chicago and its surrounding suburbs comes from the water in Lake Michigan or from wells. The article also states that many of the well systems supplement their water with a purchased supply of water from Lake Michigan.

In a news article posted in August of 2011 in the Chicago Tribune, it is noted that a Chicago suburb was having issues with their water supply. Two people well indicted because they were knowingly letting their community members drink water that was contaminated. The water supply was infected with cancer-causing chemicals. The reason that the Crestwood water supply department decided to keep lying and assuring their community that they had a clean drinking supply rather than fixing the problem was because they didn’t want to have to spend the money on fixing their water supply contamination. More importantly, this article noted that the contamination in the water came partly from vinyl chloride. An over-exposure to this chemical can lead to health issues in the people it comes in contact with. One of the major health issues from this chemical is cancer. This chemical can also cause liver damage and cancerous tumors.

Although this was an isolated incident this is very relevant to the rest of the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Because this chemical, vinyl chloride, is odorless and colorless there is no way you can be able to tell if your water is contaminated. It’s important that we trust the people who are in power and overlook our water systems so we can trust that when there is any sort of contamination it will be addressed right away.

Submitted 24 Feb 2012 — Editor’s Note: Water supply issues specific to Schaumburg are discussed in detail in the Water section of this website.

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About Suburban Sustainability

Founder and editor of the Schaumburg's Sustainability Future social media project (est. Earth Day, 2011)
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