New Illinois law seeks to prevent future water contaminations

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 4:10 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Water supply disruption can not only be a inconvenience but can be dangerous as deadly diseases like Legionnaire’s can form under certain conditions.

But a new Illinois law now requires water utility companies to alert places like healthcare facilities and senior living centers of water disruptions supply that could put people at risk.

Water utility providers are now required to notify healthcare or senior living facilities, along with the Illinois EPA and the Department of Public Health 15 to 30 days before any planned water disruptions and within two hours of any unplanned disruptions.

Quincy public works director Jeffery Conte said this helps hold utility companies accountable to the government and those they serve.

Conte said unplanned disruptions are more dangerous as it’s when pathogens like Legionnaires are more likely to form.

“Anything that would open the pipe to the atmosphere could potentially introduce that and then it just sits there and waits for the proper environment or proper growing conditions which would be those without chlorine to start growing,” Conte said.

Conte said if a problem were to occur, the city would coordinate with any affected facilities to help protect those at risk as they issue boil orders and test for pathogens with results coming back in 24 hours.

Officials at Good Samaritan Home said the extra notice can make a difference.

Nathan Halfpap said they have over 200 residents in their care, and they can be vulnerable to pathogens like Legionnaire’s.

He said the extra time allows them to better prepare and protect their residents.

“Everything needs to be checked and that’s all water inlets that are coming into the facility and that can be a lot especially in a facility our size so that extra time is crucial,” Halfpap said. “That gives our maintenance staff time to make sure everything with the water supply is in tip top shape before that’s turned back on.”

He said they have checks and balances in place to make sure residents with weaker immune systems are safe. That includes flushing their water supply in the event of a disruption.

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