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Problems With Lead In Water University Park Continue For More Than A Year

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Hundreds of UniversityPark residents are still unable to drink the water in their homes because of high lead levels. Now the city's mayor says enough is enough.

It began in June 2019 when residents were told utility company Aqua Illinois found high levels of lead in some of the water. Residents, including the mayor, were under the impression that the water would be safe again after a few weeks, but that is still not the case for some. The mayor is now taking the water supplier to task.

RELATED: Aqua Illinois Skips Town Hall Meeting After 1500 University Park Residents Without Drinkable Water Nearly A Month | Aqua Illinois Issues Water Advisory For South Suburbs

Dorothy Jones is another resident who said her life has been turned upside down ever since Aqua Illinois told her she needed to test her water.

"It was mind boggling," she said. "The results. That's when I discovered I was one of the three homes that had such high levels that it triggered the 'Do Not Consume.'"

She said lead levels from her kitchen sink showed 3700 parts per billion.

"And then I read where the EPA said anything over 15, you got problems," she said.

The Village clerk said it has been stressful using large water bottles for day-to-day tasks like brushing her teeth.

"I'm still not comfortable," she said.

And that's frustrating to Mayor Joseph Roudez.

"I never thought this problem would last this long," he said. "Absolutely not. I thought that they would attack this aggressively."

Roudez said that's not the case, and now his relationship with Aqua is severed.

"At one time Aqua was working very good with the community, and there were no water bills throughout the community whatsoever. That last maybe two or three months, and it's absolutely completely unacceptable."

The mayor believes the water company is only concerned about their bottom line and not the impact the situation has had on so many.

"What I"m asking Aqua to do: Come to the table. You have to earn the trust of the residents," he said. "Work with the residents of University Park. Let's get this problem behind us."

The mayor plans to present Aqua with a list of demands Saturday at the Town Center Plaza.

A spokesperson for Aqua Illinois said the numbers at Jones' house have come down significantly, which is a strong indication treatment is working in her home. She also wanted to highlight that about 89% of University Park samples report low lead levels. According to Aqua that demonstrates meaningful progress toward reaching the standard of 90%, as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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