Maeystown still tackling water issues

As residents of Flint, Mich., continue to deal with the effects of a poorly managed water contamination crisis that has allowed lead to leach into the city’s drinking water for years, the village of Maeystown continues work toward a solution to its own water woes.

Village leaders are exploring options to deal with elevated nitrate levels in the water supply that were identified in 2012. At the time, John Wagner of the Monroe County Health Department assured residents that the water remains safe for all but women who are pregnant and babies under six months of age, who are provided bottled water by the village.

Among the possibilities for a fix are connecting to and purchasing the residents’ water from Fountain Water District, purchasing water from Illinois American Water or construction of a reverse osmosis plant.

“Maeystown has not yet received a firm offer as to the price and ability to supply water from Fountain (Water District),” said village attorney Mary Buettner. “The Fountain engineer has floated a price that is approximately 35 percent higher than the price charged to Valmeyer. I have not heard a logical reason for this large price difference.”

She said the possibility of purchasing water from Illinois American is also complicated by Fountain Water District, which has “not been willing” to offer Illinois American permission to cross Fountain territory to reach Maeystown.

As for the reverse osmosis plant, it would be the only permanent solution that allows the village to remain in charge of its own water supply and the cost to its residents, but it is also the most expensive option.

“Also, there is no guarantee that Fountain and/or Illinois American will not experience quality problems in the future,” Buettner said.

In 2012, shortly after the problem was discovered, the village received a $750,000 urgent need grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, as well as a separate $50,000 grant, both of which Buettner said she believes are still available for use by the village.

“I would invite Maeystown residents who are interested in the water situation and the well-being of Maeystown to attend a board meeting and consider becoming a trustee,” Buettner said, adding that the village does not conduct closed sessions.

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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email:
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