Aqua Settlement Awaits Judge’s OK

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By Karen Haave

A five-year-old lawsuit against Aqua Illinois has been resolved.

Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but sources said that Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and the Village of University Park have reached an agreement in court and are working to memorialize it into a consent judgment.

It must be entered into a consent judgment before it becomes final. It would bring to conclusion the lawsuit Raoul and Glasgow filed against Aqua in August 2019, alleging changes Aqua made to the public water supply caused lead to be released from some piping and plumbing in homes and businesses, resulting in contaminated drinking water.

Moreover, the lawsuit alleged that Aqua proceeded with construction and operations without having secured the required permits from the IEPA.

The following November, Raoul and Glasgow filed an agreed interim order that required Aqua to provide free bottled water and faucet filter devices to impacted residents within the area of Aqua’s issued lead advisory.

The order also required Aqua to conduct tap water sampling and offer blood lead level testing upon residents’ request. The proposed consent order included a process for Aqua to cease providing bottled water and filter devices.

But University Park officials were not happy with the interim order because they felt it did not do enough for the village. They asked Judge John Anderson to be allowed to intervene.

Anderson is expected to sign off on the settlement next month.

University Park Village President Joseph Roudez III did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit resolution.

Glasgow’s office declined comment, and referred requests to Kwame’s spokesperson, who said, “A hearing regarding entry of the consent order is scheduled for July 8, and we have no further comment until then.”

Shane Gustafson, Morreale Communications, said Aqua has issued the following statement: “The settlement, which has not yet been entered by the presiding judge, will be an important milestone for the residents of University Park and comes after nearly three years of the drinking water meeting all state and federal drinking water benchmarks.

“The terms of our agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, the State’s Attorney for Will County and leadership from University Park will be disclosed upon official entry. Those terms will reflect our continued dedication to providing safe and reliable drinking water to our customers.

“We thank the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Will County and the Office of the Attorney General for their close cooperation in reaching this expected milestone. We also thank University Park’s residents and local leaders for their trust and understanding as we worked collaboratively toward a resolution.

“Aqua’s proposed source water change for the (Village of) Peotone water system is unrelated to the settlement agreement in University Park, but does instill confidence with the IEPA and USEPA that our corrosion control treatment is working very well and that Peotone residents will continue to have high quality water.”

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

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