Illinois grants $1.6 million to clean up city’s drinking water, after Grantee’s series exposed problems

Two months after The Daily Chronicle, which covers several communities in and around DeKalb County in Illinois, began its series on the condition of the public drinking water system in Sycamore, Illinois has stepped in to help clean up the system to replace lead pipes that were delivering water to residents.

The state has allocated $1,606,426 in funding to Sycamore (in DeKalb County) to replace lead-laden lines that were embedded in the public water system. The funding is from a low-interest loan from the state’s Environmental Protection Agency’s revolving fund, which helps fund projects for clean drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater.

The loan will eventually be forgiven by the state.

The condition of the water system was highlighted by The Daily Chronicle’s reporting after residents complained of foul smelling, yellowish water running from their taps. With support from the Fund, the newspaper had filed a public records request that produced documents showing that local officials have detected elevated lead levels in tap water in at least six homes. Residents of the community of about 18,000 people, 70 miles west of Chicago, told the newspaper they were worried that the city isn’t doing enough to fix problems. In December, after the first stories in the series were published, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said it would begin requiring the city to increase testing on water samples.