To hear that trusted government officials allegedly allowed water they KNEW contained levels of potentially carcinogenic material into the public water supply sickens us on a number of levels… but that ought not come as a surprise.
Allegedly, political figures in the 11,000-resident village of Crestwood located roughly 20 miles south of Chicago hoped to score brownie points with local voters by showing how the water commission had kept water rates low… by mixing water from a well previously determined to contain unwanted carcinogenic compounds with more expensive, but much cleaner water from Lake Michigan.
Estimates put the annual savings netted by this deceptive little scheme at around $400,000 per year and although residents certainly did enjoy the ride afforded them by lower water bills for a number of years, many Crestwood residents now harbor a tremendous amount of ill will towards the longtime supervisor of the water department (Theresa Neubauer) and the man who served as the water department’s certified water operator (Frank Scaccia).
Both Theresa and Frank now face up to 5 years per count for making false statements to environmental regulators. The court found Theresa guilty of 11 counts so she could face up to 55 years in prison while Frank previously plead guilty to 1 count and could face up to 5 years in prison.
Was Justice served, though?
While it may make some folks happy to see trusted government officials getting thrown in jail for putting hardworking, unknowing families at risk by serving up polluted water, the fact remains that in this case, the residents of Crestwood have ingested potentially dangerous drinking water up until 2008 despite environmental regulators warning political figures in the town in the mid-1980’s of the potential dangers lurking in the well water.
So… will two people spending time behind bars do anything to help those whose health may have gotten compromised by carcinogenic compounds in the well water? Probably not and quite honestly we doubt ANY news of ANY kind will make the residents of that community feel better about what has happened.
Moral off the story?
We would like to think of the unfortunate events in Crestwood — especially the betrayal of the public’s trust by governing officials — as isolated events but our years of reading and writing about various intentional acts of water contamination by individuals, industries and governments will not allow us to think like that.
Instead, we view this story (which will only end in more heartache and misery for the residents of Crestwood) as a grim reminder that we must all keep a vigilant eye on the quality of our water regardless of how it reaches our homes, schools and offices.
Whether accidental or intentional, unwanted water contaminants can creep into the water supply at any time. Only through regular, or at least annual, drinking water testing will you find out if something has altered the quality of your water and possibly put you and your loved ones at risk.
Testing for carcinogenic compounds in drinking water
As most of you know, we carry a variety of simple, at-home drinking water test kits in the Water Test Kit Store that folks can use to keep an eye on basic drinking water parameters. Neither basic dip-n-read test strips nor traditional wet chemistry test kits, however, will tell you if carcinogens exist in your water supply.
Detection of compounds like VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which scientists have positively linked to the occurrence of cancer in laboratory animals and humans can only take place with the aid of technology not well-suited for field work so we have recently also started carrying mail-in drinking water test kits produced by National Testing Laboratories, a widely respected and well-known name in residential and commercial water testing.
For the purpose of testing for VOC’s we suggest considering a water testing package like the Watercheck City-Check Standard Test Kit which tests for 47 VOC’s as well as a host of other important water quality parameters:
Generally speaking, National Testing Laboratories will send by email a copy of your test results 10 to 14 business days after the lab receives your water sample.