Timing of delivery by Highland Park’s water testing lab to Deerfield’s water operator of notification of fecal coliform in the Village’s water supply potentially endangered Deerfield’s public health, according to a statement made today by Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street.
Street’s statement was contained in an August 28 memorandum sent to Mayor Harriet Rosenthal and the Village Board of Trustees. Street read it in its entirety at today’s Village Board meeting because of the seriousness of the situation leading the Village to issue its August 12 boil order.
Though the Highland Park lab knew August 8 fecal coliform was present in the test samples it received from Deerfield, the Village did not learn until August 13 the City was aware of the situation five days before, according to the memorandum.
Direction for the boil order came August 12 from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) after it got results from the lab.
“This failure to report compliance data to the (Village) or the (IEPA) in a timely manner prevented compliance with state regulations and potentially endangered public health,” Street said in the memo.
Highland Park City Manager David Knapp disagrees with Street’s assessment in an email he sent Street today claiming Highland Park Water Plant Operator Jim Mitchell told David Gehrke, Deerfield’s water operator, shortly after 8 a.m. August 10 the August 8 samples were unsatisfactory.
“(Gehrke) knew or should have known that the tested water did not meet EPA standards for potable water,” Knapp said in the email. “Mitchell also suggested Gehrke contact the lab chemist at her home or the EPA to determine the next steps.”
Knapp claims if Gehrke followed Mitchell’s suggestions Deerfield would have had sufficient information to issue its boil order two days earlier. Street has recommended Deerfield find a new laboratory to test the water it buys from Highland Park.
Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal has promised a further review by the IEPA and looks forward to the results. “If, as a result of the IEPA’s review, any appropriate follow up actions with personnel or procedures are necessary, they will be taken and reported,” she said. Her full statement is contained in the video with this story.