Man cites problems with water system

Possible lead contamination?

Robert Gentry, a resident in the SwedishAmerican area, observed the water from the street to most homes or businesses in Rockford is supplied by lead pipes. He thinks a lot of people are not aware of this.

“You can’t even buy solder for copper pipes anymore,” he said. “If it has lead in it, you can’t use it for plumbing. I don’t know what the cutoff date was when they stopped allowing plumbers to use lead pipes. But the majority of the inner city does have lead pipes. I used to work for Kenway Sewer Service. It was owned by an old plumber, Red Dorris.” That company is no longer in business, as far as Gentry knows.

He recalled that when he worked there, “we pulled a lot of lead pipes out of the ground around here—they call it ‘water box’—the valve that controls the water from the street to the house.”

As for his own area, Gentry said, “the water is awful here. We have to have some kind of filtration system; otherwise, we can’t drink it. It’s really bad. You can’t make coffee with it or cook with it. It was pretty good for a while, but back in the late ’80s, it started tasting nasty.”

The Rock River Times: What do you think caused this?

Gentry: “I’m not sure if my house is supplied by lead pipes, but the house across the street is, because the city was over there working on the water pipes.” Gentry asked the worker, who confirmed it but didn’t want to say any more.

Gentry mentioned this problem to the Rockford Register Star a couple months ago when the paper was doing reports that the city wanted to update the water system. They never got back to him, he says. “I would like everybody to know this so they can get it changed. You can have it replaced with a copper pipe if you can afford it.” (He thinks it costs approximately $200.) “People who can’t afford it might want to consider using a filtration system or buying bottled water.”

A 2005 Water Quality Report issued by the Rockford Water Division listed some detected contaminants found in 2004 in a water quality table. Lead is listed under “Inorganic Contaminants.” Explanation of terms used in the table is as follows: MCLG is the goal level for that substance (which may be lower than what is allowed). MCL shows the highest level of the substance (contaminant) allowed. Highest Level Found represents the highest measured amount of that substance. Range of Detection tells the higest and lowest amounts measured. None under Violation means the amount of substance met regulatory requirements. In the table, lead rated 0 for MCLG; AL=15 for MCL; under 5 for Highest Level Found; 1 exceeding AL for Range of Detection; and None under Violation.

From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue

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