In a public apology to the residents of Deerfield, Mayor Harriet Rosenthal and the Village Board of Trustees promised a thorough investigation into the facts that led to an order to boil water August 12 and the communication of the dictate at a Board meeting Monday at Village Hall.
“Nothing during my tenure as mayor has been this serious, Rosenthal said. “I’m deeply upset.” “We’re taking this very seriously. We’re going to figure out what we did wrong and how we can do it better. We’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
That investigation will include actions of the Highland Park operated water testing laboratory which Deerfield Village Manger Kent Street blames along with Deerfield employees for a delay reporting fecal coliform in Deerfield’s water it purchases from Highland Park.
Before Rosenthal spoke, Village Manager Kent Street read the five-page memorandum he submitted to the mayor and the Board which accuses the lab and Deerfield’s water operator of a lack of affirmative action. “I’m going to do this very deliberately,” Street said. “It’s a very serious matter.”
After the meeting, Street stood behind the language in his memorandum which took Highland Park to task for not immediately informing Deerfield of the contents of the report when it knew August 10 and criticized Deerfield employees for not asking what was in the report that day.
“The fecal coliform test results were available at this time (August 10) and had the laboratory clearly reported these results or the (Deerfield) Village Water Operator asked further about the results, the Village of Deerfield would have known to issue a boil order,” Street said in his report.
When asked about a duty on the part of the lab to immediately inform Deerfield of the fecal coliform, Highland Park Deputy City Manager Ghida Neukirch defended the actions of the laboratory staff.
“We have a very detailed standard operating procedure,” Neukirch said. “I have full confidence our staff followed the procedures thoroughly and notified Deerfield representatives at the onset of any concerns.” Representatives of the two communities will meet Thursday to take a closer look, according to Neukirch.
Rosenthal was critical of both Deerfield and Highland Park. “We had problems with the test lab we use as well as our own employees,” she said. Street indicated other labs will be considered in the future.