'This Is Not A Crisis': Highland Park Updates Residents After Lead Found In Water

August 14, 2019 - 12:53 pm

HIGHLAND PARK (WWJ) - "This is not a crisis." That's the word from Highland Park officials about lead-contaminated water found at some homes in the city.

City leaders updated residents at a community meeting on Tuesday, roughly a month after lead was found in nine out of 36 homes back in mid-July. Since then, more than 400 homes have been tested.

"Now we have 450 tested, 350 results and we've had 18 not pass. So, that's five percent. So, that's significantly lower than what we talked about on the 17th," city water director Damon Garrett told the crowd.

Garrett said every home in the city will be tested by the end of the month.

Betty Haskins was among those residents who shared concerns with city leaders.

"I just want to know if the water is safe," she said. "They said they sent out all of these letters. I didn't receive a letter."

While passing out free water filters to residents last month, Mayor Hubert Yopp said the city "will not sit by and become a Flint," referencing the Flint Water Crisis that led to a dozen deaths from the city's contaminated water supply.

In a press release, the city says the most important thing residents can do is let the water run to flush out lead from the pipes.

"Lead can enter drinking water when in contact with pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain lead," according to the release. "Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Therefore, if your water has not been used for several hours, run the water before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes. Additional flushing may be required for homes that have been vacant or have a longer service line."

The city says residents should:

  • Run your water to flush out the lead-containing water.
  • If you do not have a lead service line, run the water for thirty (30) seconds to two minutes, or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature.
  • If you do have a lead service line, run the water for at least five minutes to flush water from your home of building’s plumbing and the lead service line.
  • Use cold water for drinking, cooking, or preparing baby formula.
  • Public health recommends that any household with a child or pregnant woman use a certified lead filter to remove lead from their drinking water. Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. 
  • Do not boil your water as boiling will not reduce the amount of lead in water.
  • Check whether your home has a lead service line.

Water filters are available through the city's fire department. Highland Park residents who would like their water service lines inspected, or would like to have their drinking water tested for lead, should contact the Water Department at 313-865-1876.