The Village owns and maintains approximately 73 miles of water main. Most of the pipe is original to the Village and is approximately 70 years old. Due to the age of many of these pipes, the Village experiences numerous water main breaks every year. While most breaks require routine fixes, which can be accomplished relatively quickly, more complex breaks can require more time to resolve. The Village understands that water main breaks can be inconvenient to residents. It is the Village's pledge that every water main break will be treated with the utmost importance so that full water service can be restored as quickly as possible.
Is the Water Safe during a Water Main Break?
In addition to routine chemical sampling, the Department of Public Works also monitors potential water quality changes that could result from a main break, per the guidance of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Almost always, breaks are repaired without impacting water quality. However, there are occasions when a main break results in loss of system pressure so low that a Boil Water Advisory is warranted. These advisories mean that conditions may exist for contaminants to enter the water system. In an abundance of caution, the Department of Public Works will ask residents to boil their water before consuming. During this time, chemical analysis is run to ensue water safety.
Water main breaks may cause residents to experience red discolored water for up to 24 hours. This discoloration is iron from the water main that has dissolved into the water as a result of the break. There is no known health hazard from the discolored water, though it is understandable if you wish to refrain from drinking the water until it is clear. The Department of Public Works recommends running only cold water during this time to avoid discolored water being drawn into your hot water heater. Additionally, if the red water gets on to your clothes within the washing machine, the Village provides a product called "Red-B-Gone" free of charge. This product will help eliminate the discoloration from your clothes. "Red-B-Gone" can be obtained from both the Water and Public Works counters at the Village Hall.
Should I be concerned about Lead?
Lead and copper levels in Park Forest water fall well below legal limits. However, water main maintenance may cause exposure to lead from service lines or household plumbing fixtures. It is not known for certain if a repair will adversely affect the lead (if present) plumbing in or outside your home. However, there are measures to reduce any possible exposure if present. Once the repair is complete, run your cold tap water for a minimum of two minutes to flush your service line and plumbing.
Can I be notified when a water main break is in my area?
Park Forest uses the Code Red system to alert residents of water main breaks and other emergencies. For water main breaks that will cause a service interruption, but have no water quality concern, residents will be notified by e-mail only during normal business hours. Resident will also receive phone calls and text messages for boil advisories and other emergencies.
The Village recognizes the importance of replacing the existing water mains. However, replacement comes with a large capital investment cost at approximately $1 million per mile. The Village is currently budgeting, through the water rate, approximately 4 miles of replacement every 5 years. Approximately 16.9 miles of the Village water mains have been replaced to date.