News Feature | March 14, 2017

Residents Urge Federal Government To Investigate Drinking Water In East Chicago

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

EastChicago

In East Chicago, IN, rising levels of lead are becoming more of a concern to residents and both advocacy and environmental groups. The high levels appearing in soil has some extremely worried because of the drinking water supply being contaminated.

WBEZ reported that the groups are urging federal government to expand its role in making sure there is safe drinking water in the city.

Last fall, the U.S. EPA “tested water in 43 homes that were near the West Calumet Housing Complex, where residents are now being forced to move because of lead in the soil.” Though the agency said that there is no reason to worry, 18 of the homes that were tested had high levels of lead.

“Nobody should be forced to endure contaminated drinking water, a basic need of every American,” Anjali Waikar, a staff attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “The EPA must act to protect the community’s health until effective long-term fixes are in place.”

The study had “concluded that old piping in the homes could be causing the elevated levels of lead in drinking water, rather than the lead found in the soil at the nearby USS Lead Superfund site.”

The U.S. EPA suggested that residents obtain water filters, however the agency has no plans to extend the testing.

It was in January in the Pilsen area of Chicago that yards that had been contaminated for years by toxic lead emissions were finally starting to be cleaned up, well after activists tested soil and located high levels of the metal.

The Chicago Tribune reported then that “even after investigators raised concern about children inhaling or ingesting contaminated soil, the lot had not been cleaned up or fenced off.”

According to WBEZ, “East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said the city’s drinking water, which it draws from Lake Michigan, is safe and is in full compliance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulations.”

However, the mayor did add that old lead piping could be raising the lead levels in drinking water. He is hoping that “the state of Indiana provides additional resources and money to help homeowners pay for new piping.”

But Copeland acknowledged that old lead piping in the homes of residents could be elevating lead in drinking water. He is hoping that “the state of Indiana provides additional resources and money to help homeowners pay for new piping.”

Image credit: "Backyards in Marktown, September 2010" vxla © 2010 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/