East Chicago Officials Look For Guidance Over Contaminated Water

Feb 8, 2017

East Chicago, Indiana, city leaders have two different lead problems – lead in the soil of its Calumet neighborhood and lead in water pipes leading to some homes. They don’t know how many yet.

Now, officials are grappling to measure the extent of that lead in water pipes leading into homes. So, when they came to testify on a bill at the Statehouse that would help them cleanup the soil, they also talked about the water.

“It had left, just, suspicion and confusion across our whole city. It has created panic,” Mayor Anthony Copeland said to lawmakers about the Environmental Protection Agency tests that measured elevated lead levels in the drinking water of 18 homes.

Copeland says the city did test for lead in drinking water and it is in compliance with state guidelines. But the EPA used a more rigorous test.

“The test [the Indiana Department of Environmental Management] used is a $45 test. [The EPA] came and did a $5,000 test,” Copeland says.

City utilities director Greg Crowley asked the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to help clarify the issue.

“If we’re gonna change the rules and the standards, we want to make sure that it’s being done comprehensively and across the board,” Crowley says.

The EPA is recommending residents use water filters city-wide. It is not planning to test any additional homes.