City shuts off 6 water fountains due to high lead levels

Billy Kobin, Reporter

Six water fountains in Evanston parks will remain shut off as the summer season begins after tests showed high lead levels.

The fountains had lead levels that exceeded the federal limit of 15 parts per billion, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said. In addition, Bobkiewicz said 13 fountains located in various parks remain turned off pending additional testing results, which should be available by June 20.

The six inactive water fountains are located in Clark Square Park, Larimer Park, Snyder Park, Brummel/Richmond Park, McCulloch Park and Leider Park.

City staff plan to share with City Council a final list of fountains that will be out of service along with plans for replacing them on June 26, Bobkiewicz said. Higher lead levels may reflect a problem with the fountain itself or with the line connecting a water main with a fountain, he added.

“If it’s just the fountain, that’s a pretty straightforward (replacement) process,” Bobkiewicz said. “If it’s the fountain and the pipe that connects it to the water main, that’s a little bit more expensive process.”

The city has tested the fountains over the past three to four weeks, Bobkiewicz said. City staff had originally predicted that five to seven fountains would have high lead levels, but those predictions could be off, he said.

“There are probably going to be a few more than that, as it’s turning out,” Bobkiewicz said. “We had budgeted some money in the current fiscal year to replace water fountains but likely have not budgeted enough to do them all this year.”

City staff will work with aldermen to form recommendations by the June 26 City Council meeting on which fountains should be replaced this year — based on location and usage, Bobkiewicz said.

“Not every water fountain is used equally around the city,” he said. “We would look to replace those that are in active locations.”

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