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Just to be sure

Opinion: Editorials

July 30th, 2019 12:54 PM

After a Riverside resident tipped off the Landmark to some suspect storm runoff flowing into the Des Plaines River from a drainage pipe coming from an abandoned quarry in Lyons, we made a few inquiries.

The resident was concerned that the runoff, which she said emitted a powerful odor, contained sewage or some other contaminants. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago responded to the Landmark that they sent someone out to take a look and that the runoff appeared to be clear and not sewage.

As far as the smell went, the MWRD and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the very high temperatures and stagnation likely played a role. The verdict was that there was no danger to the runoff.

Missing from those explanations, however, was any actual data resulting from testing that runoff for the presence of toxins, which we think ought to be pretty easy and cheap to do. It would also go a long way to reassuring citizens that something harmful is not flowing into the river.

While people outside of Lyons might not be aware of it, there were many residents there who were very much disturbed by soil testing that showed the former quarry, which had been filled in, contained traces of all manner of toxins? They were concerned, because the village built a park and its municipal complex on top of the filled-in quarry, whose dangerous toxins were covered over with an impermeable barrier.

Maybe that solution passed muster for whatever was built atop that barrier. But who knows what's going on below that barrier, where, we're assuming, that drainage pipe is also located.

For that reason alone, if there is some sort of foul-smelling runoff – even if it appears clear – coming from a pipe connected to that former quarry site, we think testing that runoff regularly is essential to safeguard the quality of water in the Des Plaines River, which is used more than ever now that the Hofmann and Fairbank dams have been removed.

This should be a no-brainer. 

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