Chicago Park District to Shut Down Drinking Fountains Due to Lead

Chicagoans may soon find drinking fountains at their local parks have been shut off, removed or simply won’t stop flushing water.

According to reporting by WBEZ’s Monica Eng, the Chicago Park District may shut down nearly half of its more than 1,200 outdoor water fountains due to the presence of lead, a poisonous heavy metal.

Last spring, the park district set some fountains to continuously flush with water after about a fourth of its fountains were found in violation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action limit for lead contamination of 15 parts per billion.

“This goal was to flush pipes and drinking water of lead sediment, as well as condition the pipes,” Eng reports. The flushing tactic worked for most of the fountains, but some have returned to releasing dangerous levels of lead.

Of the 750 fountains that have registered detectable levels of lead, the park district hasn’t determined which will be turned off or left running – that will likely be determined by the traffic flow of the individual fountains. Some will be permanently removed, the district’s Environmental Services Director Dan Cooper told Eng.

Eng joins us to discuss the story.

Related stories:

New Report Reveals Presence of Lead in Many Chicago Homes

EPA’s Pruitt Wants Lead-Free Drinking Water, But Offers No Plan

Could Milwaukee Be a Model for Replacing Chicago’s Lead Water Pipes?