Area citizens will soon have cleaner water

An approximately three-year project, championed by Winnebago County Board Member Pearl Hawks, is approaching fruition. Some west Rockford residents will soon have clean drinking water.

Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen announced, in an April 28 press release that the county received a more than $38,000 Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) grant. The money will be used to cover a shortfall in the total of $100,000 needed to connect more than 20 homes in the Champion Park neighborhood to the city water system.

“In this day and age, our people shouldn’t be living as Third-World people,” Hawks said.

She said a constituent complained that her water was contaminated. Hawks referred her to the health department, which ultimately discovered all the neighborhood wells were contaminated.

She said the health department gave residents bottled water. Residents were also told, Hawks said, they’d be connected to the city’s sewer system free of charge. But later, they were informed they’d have to pay.

Hawks said she set out to find an alternative.

“I solicited money from whoever I thought would give me some,” she said.

That grant will cover the remaining costs related to providing more than 20 homes in the Champion Park neighborhood with city water, according to a Winnebago County press release.

“We all deserve clean and safe drinking water. I am happy that we were able to locate funding, which will ensure the residents of the Champion Park neighborhood will have a clean source of water in the future,” IEPA Director Doug Scott said, in a press release.

Winnebago County Housing Authority Director Alan Zais said the health department contributed $25,000. The City of Rockford contributed $15,000, while Rockford Township contributed nearly $1,300.

Rockford Township Supervisor Mickey Goral said the money came from the Township’s senior citizen utility program fund. Goral said six seniors qualified for the grant money.

Those homes are on the edge of the Hope VI rehabilitation area. The Winnebago County Housing Authority razed the Champion Apartments and is upgrading housing in the area. Winnebago County Health Department, Rockford Township and the City of Rockford also provided funding.

From the May 10-16, 2006, issue

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