Freeport invests $13M for cleaner drinking water

Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) - Freeport will soon fire up a new water treatment plant, replacing one that’s 120 years old. The facility will give area residents cleaner drinking water.

City workers shut down one of Freeports wells nearly a decade ago after finding toxic compounds inside. It was a red flag, one that needed attention immediately.

“We’re not only getting away from the forever chemical issue. We’re also providing a more robust water source for the city,” said Rob Boyer, the public works director for the city of Freeport.

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency, also known as EPA, in 2014 found high levels of what’s called “forever chemicals” inside one of Freeports wells. These wells provide drinking water for residents. “Forever chemicals” are found in products like non-stick or stain-resistant pans.

“They’re toxic at very low levels,” said Boyer.

He says, leaders immediately shut down the well and launched into action to create a $13M plan. This plan is to replace both the wells and the treatment plant.

“You don’t have to have very much perforated compounds in your water to have an increased risk of cancer,” said Boyer.

City leaders say water bills were increased by 1% in 2017 to help pay for the work that needed to be done. This increase will stay for the next 30 years to help fund not only the water treatment plan, but other public works projects within the city.

“We’ll have a better more reliable more plentiful source of water. We’ll be getting off of really old infrastructure and going to new infrastructure that’s going to be more reliable,” Boyer explained.

The “forever chemicals” can enter your body not just from drinking a glass of water, but through everyday tasks like brushing your teeth or washing your face. Experts say as the chemicals build up in your bloodstream it raises your risk for cancer and other health problems.

The water treatment plant is located on South Burchard Avenue and the wells are located off Willow Avenue.

Work is scheduled to be completed sometime next year, with a second water treatment plant in the works to be built off of Willow Avenue.