Freeze changes tap water

Extreme weather conditions have impacted the Kankakee River, which makes it a challenge to treat the water for local residents. Photo by A.J.W. Ewers.

By Nicole Lafond

Aqua Illinois, the water company that supplies water to Olivet and the surrounding area, recently started feeding more chlorine into its water supply, resulting in a chlorinated odor and taste.

Extreme weather conditions have impacted the composition of the Kankakee River, making it a challenge to treat the water, according to Aqua Illinois Area Manager, Melissa Kahoun. Consequently, the company had to add more chlorine than usual into the treatment mix. Chlorine is often added to water at treatment plants to rid it of harmful bacteria or germs.

For the first time in more than 30 years, an ice dam on the Kankakee River has caused Kankakee County authorities to close down Warner Bridge. An increase of ice floes formed by the rapid melting snow caused a dam to form that is now endangering the bridge. The bridge, which is a main thoroughfare between Illinois routes 102 and 113, was shut down Feb. 23 because of possible structural danger, Kankakee County Engineer Mark Rogers told the Daily Journal.

Instances similar to the ice dam at Warner Bridge have led Aqua Illinois to add more chlorine chemicals to the water than usual to disinfect it. The drinking water still meets all of the IEPA Primary Drinking Water Standards, Kahoun said in an email sent out to the mayors of Kankakee, Bourbonnais, Bradley, Manteno and Aroma Park.

Despite Kalhoun’s claims, Steve Harrison, president of water filter maker Environmental Systems Distributing says chlorine usage in drinking water can have long terms effects on one’s health.

“Chlorine introduced into the water supply reacts with other naturally-occurring elements to form toxins called trihalomethanes (THMs), which eventually make their way into our bodies,” Harrison wrote in an article. “THMs have been linked to a wide range of human health maladies ranging from asthma and eczema to bladder cancer and heart disease.”

However, “the water is safe,” according to the director of Olivet’s physical plant, Matt Whitis and the taste and odor issue should not be long-term.

“Aqua is aware of the taste and odor in the water and we are working diligently to correct it,” Kahoun said.

The company has received several complaints about the taste and odor of the tap water in the area, according to Kahoun. Students have noticed the change as well.

“The water on campus tastes and smells like medal, almost,” senior Old Oak resident, Olivia Smith said. “After I shower, my hair feels dry and dirty.”

To alleviate the odor, Kahoun suggests filling a pitcher with water and letting it sit overnight. This will allow the smell to dissipate, she said.

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