MONTICELLO, Ill., (WCIA) — Imagine wanting to take a bath, turning on the water and seeing a discolored, yellow liquid coming out of the faucet. For some in Piatt County, this is their reality, every single day.
Monticello’s city administrator and the head of the water department said the water is safe to drink.
But, just because experts said you could drink it, some people with dirty water said they don’t want to. Some homeowners are relying on bottled or filtered water.
Carmen Ureno said it’s a problem she’s fought with since moving to town two and a half years ago.
“Never mind bathing my grandson, I refuse to bathe him,” Ureno said. “He has sensitive skin already and has allergies to chemicals. If I put him in the bath, it’s yellow.”
Since moving in, she said her water has never run completely clear.
It hasn’t smelled great either.
“The smell of bleach is beyond my comprehension. It’s awful, you smell it all day long on you,” she added.
So, she called the city looking for answers.
“Asked for a chemical update. I want to know what chemicals are tested in this water. I just want to know, why is it this color?” Ureno said.
Terry Summers, the city administrator, said he knows about the problem.
“We’ve tried to narrow down what it might be,” Summers said. “We haven’t found anything that would indicate anything that we have seen in previous years.”
He said he’s seen the issue in homes west of the Sangamon River.
The city has tested water in impacted homes, and Summers said they also brought in an independent testing group.
“Those tests indicated it was the same quality of water as at the water treatment plant,” he said.
Then, the city started isolating water mains. In the new year, they’re focusing on one of them, trying to fix the problem.
“The council, for 2023, has allocated money to replace one of the water mains near this site and abandon another one,” Summers said. “The city council allocated $250,000 to replace the filter media and softener media at the water plant.”
He said they plan to start construction this summer as the budget was just approved.
Ureno is thankful for the city’s responses to her but is still frustrated.
“There’s something going on. We shouldn’t be forced to drink it, let alone, pay for it,” she said.
Summers said he knows someone illegally opened a fire hydrant over the summer, and that could’ve left residue in a water main causing issues.
For now, until they replace one of the water mains, he said it’s best to run cold water for 10-15 minutes and it should clear up.
To access the city’s water quality reports, you can find them on the City of Monticello website.