LYNWOOD | State Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, called the water quality in Sauk Village the equivalent of a “Third World country,” and said he thinks the federal government ought to be helping Illinois and the village resolve the problem.
Trotter held a meeting Saturday at Lynwood Village Hall to talk with area municipal officials about issues of their concern.
That led Sauk Village Trustee Derrick Burgess, a candidate for village president in the April 9 municipal elections, to bring up the water quality in his hometown at the far southeast corner of Cook County.
“Sauk Village has the water of a Third World country,” Trotter said. “You can’t wash clothes in it, let alone drink it.”
Sauk Village relies on a series of three wells for its fresh water supply, although one of those wells has been shuttered and a second well was found earlier this year to have unsafe levels of vinyl chloride.
At one point last year, officials began distributing bottled water to residents because of the vinyl chloride levels.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency later brought in air strippers — devices that help remove the substance from the water so it can evaporate into the air — and officials now say the water is safe for consumption.
Trotter, a 20-year veteran of the Illinois Senate who had considered running for Congress in the special election to replace Jesse Jackson Jr., said he thinks the federal government ought to assist.
The Army Corps of Engineers should help devise a long-term solution, he said. However, village residents voted earlier this year in favor of switching to Lake Michigan water as a long-term solution.
Burgess said he thinks such outside help is necessary because Sauk Village doesn't have money to cover the costs of improvements.
Burgess intends to keep pursuing the issue with federal and state officials, he said.
“I’m going to stay on top of them," he said. "They’re going to keep hearing from me until we get something done.”
Acting Village President David Hanks, who is also a candidate, expressed a similar view.
“We have a serious fiscal need on this issue,” Hanks said. “We need to get Sauk Village’s water supply fixed.”