Bartlett awaits stimulus funding for water problem

Bartlett, IL

There’s no easy fix in sight for Bartlett’s water filtration problems.

Steve Bosco, assistant to the village administrator in Bartlett, said as of this week, they have not heard anything in regard to new stimulus funding coming.

The village requested about $4.275 million in stimulus funding, including $1.07 million in funding to fix the water system, along with just more than $3 million for road work.

A barium and radium removal system, an influent pump replacement and an iron filter tank replacement have all been requested to fix the city’s much-maligned water system.

Bartlett Village President Michael Kelly said the stimulus funding, especially with regard to fixing the water system, would be of tremendous use to Bartlett.

“It would dramatically help us. If we get the funds, we could ... use it to alleviate the radium and barium issue,” Kelly said. “The cost is so expensive. If we don’t get it from the stimulus money, it will have to come from somewhere. It’s a priority.”

Kelly said the stimulus funds would save the people of Bartlett money and let the village better use funds for other infrastructure projects.

“We are giving this immediate priority and working on the infrastructure in both Cook and DuPage County,” Kelly said. “(It’s an) issue that has built up over generations, it’s going to take time to fix.”

Bartlett Public Works Director Paul Kuester said the barium and radium removal system would remove most of those elements from the affected wells.

“We wouldn’t request something unless it was good for the village,” Kuester said.

Kuester said there are limitations on the amount of barium and radium allowed in a public water supply. He said the village had to put out a public notice warning residents about the high levels in the water.

Bartlett’s most recent report states the standard for combined radium is 5 pico curies per liter. The 2007 average for Bartlett, reported in April of 2008, was 6 pCi/L.

The water quality report also states Bartlett’s barium level was at 2 parts per million, the maximum contaminant level as stated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive element caused by the erosion of natural deposits found in rocks and soil. It might pose a hazard to human health when used for cooking or drinking and in a worst-case scenario could cause bone, liver or breast cancer.

Barium is a metal that, with continued exposure, could cause increased blood pressure and muscle weakness. According to Bartlett’s water quality report, it comes from discharge of drilling wastes, discharge of metal refineries and erosion of natural deposits.

While these elements could be dangerous in excess, the water report said there is no need to find an alternative water supply and it is not an immediate risk. The report does note drinking water with excess amounts of radium-226 and radium-228 could put residents at a higher risk of cancer.

According to Kuester, jobs will be added during the construction period if the stimulus funds were to come through. He could not say how many, adding it would be up to individual contractors’ needs.

Kuester does not know when they will hear either way about these stimulus funds, saying they have not been given a timetable.

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