Improved wells will clean water

By Dave Sorrell

The city of Sycamore is continuing efforts to correct its radium problem.

“We are cooperating with the Illinois [Environmental Protection Agency] in hopes that we will be able to fix the content level,” City Manager Bill Nicklas said.

The city, in accordance with the Illinois EPA, approved a project to reduce the amount of radium in the water two years ago.

Two wells will have a new treatment system added, while a new well will be constructed along Airport Road, Nicklas said.

The new well should be completed before the end of the year, and the other two wells are expected to be done by July 1, 2006, he said.

Nicklas said the most recent numbers show radium levels in Sycamore at seven picocuries per liter. The state-established allowed maximum radium level is five picocuries per liter.

The focus of the project is to reduce the radium content in the water to that level.

The total cost to install these treatment plants is approximately $2.1 million, Nicklas said.

In addition, the Illinois EPA Web site said the project is also funded through a $780,000 small-interest loan provided by the Illinois EPA. That loan is to help support the overall cost of repairing the wells.

The project is geared toward treating the water with a filter to reduce the level of contaminants.

“The project focuses on ion-specified removal,” said Brett Hanson, manager of the regional office of the Illinois EPA.

He said any health cases that come from water contamination are rare, and the citizens of Sycamore shouldn’t worry about any health effects.

“Health problems come from long-term exposure to the radium… only 1 in 10,000 may develop cancer,” Hanson said.

Until then, citizens need not worry about the radium in the water, he said.