"Are Emergency Water Supplies Safe? Fed and States Can't Tell for Sure"

"It took years for Illinois officials to discover that southwest suburban Crestwood was pumping contaminated water to its residents, in part because the state took village officials at their word that nothing was wrong.

Such lax oversight is a problem in scores of communities throughout the nation, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Agency's inspector general that urged federal and state officials to conduct more rigorous inspections and adopt tighter reporting guidelines.

The report, prompted by a Tribune investigation, also found there is no way to determine if emergency water supplies that serve more than 58 million people are contaminated or being misused. Oversight is based on trust, rather than routine inspections, the inspector general concluded.

As a result, it's unclear if there are situations like Crestwood in other parts of the country. Investigators could find just two similar problems during the 1990s, one in Minnesota and the other in the U.S. Virgin Islands."

Michael Hawthorne reports for the Chicago Tribune October 26, 2010.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010