While the City of Galesburg is planning to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s urges to provide bottled water, additional testing and public education about lead risks to residents, Knox is still awaiting reports from over 50 tests.
The tests, which tested for copper and lead, are due back “any day now,” said Vice President for Finance Keith Archer. The school also tested its water for bacteria, which came back negative.
Archer says the school doesn’t have any plans to provide bottled water or filters until the results come back.
President Teresa Amott did not respond to several requests for comment for this article.
“Without the test results we don’t know what it looks like,” he said.
Though the city says Galesburg’s lead poisoning may also come from lead paint, Knox has yet to test the paint.
The pushes from the EPA and moves to test Knox’s buildings are in response to reports released earlier this month that revealed Galesburg and Knox County’s elevated lead levels. The city has exceeded federal standards in 22 of 30 tests since 1992, and rates of lead poisoning in Knox County children nearly double the state average, The Knox Student reported two weeks ago.
The school initially tested 11 homes on campus with older lead service lines, including Sigma Chi and Casa Latina.
“The testing facility is inundated with samples from Galesburg, so they’re working as fast as they can,” Maust said. He would not disclose which facility tests the water.
Complying with EPA’s recommendations to test for lead, get water filters and bottles and test for corrosion could cost the city about $90,000, City Manager Todd Thompson told City Council on Monday. The city already spends $35,000 on phosphate inhibitors – a product in the water that coats the inside of pipes to reduce lead exposure, according to City Engineer Wayne Carl.
Galesburg’s heightened lead levels have captured national attention, including coverage from the New York Times and attention from Rep. Cheri Bustos.
The city was not available for comment about plans to provide water bottles or testing on Knox’s campus.
This is a developing story. Check back with The Knox Student for continuing coverage.