Posted by Mary Kaczka
Bottled drinking water is needed to provide an alternative to the contaminated tap water for the residents of the Calumet neighbourhood of East Chicago, Indiana a Superfund site.
Residents of the Calumet neighbourhood of East Chicago live in an environment polluted with elevated lead and arsenic in the soil around their homes, in some cases, exceeding the EPA allowable limits. The west Calumet part of the neighbourhood was the former site of USS Lead. The area was listed on the National Priorities List of the worst contaminated sites in the country in 2009 and was declared a Superfund site by the U.S. EPA.  Under a consent decree entered between the responsible parties and the EPA funds have been secured to remediate/excavate the contaminated soil.
Bottled drinking water is needed to provide an alternative to the contaminated tap water for the residents of the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana a Superfund site.
Residents of the Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago live in an environment polluted with elevated lead and arsenic in the soil around their homes, in some cases, exceeding the EPA allowable limits. The west Calumet part of the neighborhood was the former site of USS Lead. The area was listed on the National Priorities List of the worst contaminated sites in the country in 2009 and was declared a Superfund site by the U.S. EPA.  Under a consent decree entered between the responsible parties and the EPA funds have been secured to remediate/excavate the contaminated soil.
At the insistence of the residents in 2016 the EPA tested tap water in a sample of homes in the Superfund site. In fall 2016, EPA conducted a pilot study at the USS Lead site to determine if soil cleanup excavation work could affect drinking water lead levels at residences where the excavation was taking place.
Like many older cities, East Chicago has a large percentage of service lines made of lead. Service lines carry water from the main in the street into the home. Lead can also be found in the interior house piping, lead solder, and brass or chrome-plated brass faucets. EPA continues to analyze data from the pilot study and has not yet come to any conclusions about the effect of excavation work on lead service lines. However, testing done as part of the pilot study uncovered an issue unrelated to the Superfund work:  drinking water samples taken from a number of homes before EPA began any soil excavation work had lead levels above EPA’s 15 parts per billion action level.
The EPA recommended that the residence not drink the tap water.
The ultimate solution to the contaminated tap water is to replace service line from the municipal water filtration plant into the home.  While the local government puts in place plans and funding to replace service lines the Rotary Clubs of District 6540, headed by Rotarians from Hammond and Valparaiso, are conducting a drive for bottled water or donations toward a fund to purchase bottled water.  Plans are also being developed by Rotary to raise funds to install reverse osmosis water filters in the homes in the Superfund site.
To donate please use the donate link below.  For further information please contact Hammond Rotarian Mary K Kaczka, mkkaczka@comcast.net, 219 808-2700 or Valparaiso Rotarian Frank Szczepanski, frankszcz10@gmail.com, 219 840-0007.
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