Drinking fountains at many parks around Evanston are shrouded in plastic bags this spring. We asked Public Works Director Dave Stoneback what’s up with that?

Stoneback says city staff is currently testing reduced pressure zone (or RPZ) devices used to prevent water backflows, flushing the service lines and taking water samples for lead concentration from drinking fountains in parks.

A bagged fountain, he says, “indicates that this work is completed and we are waiting for results from the testing lab.  Only nine fountains are in operation at this time.  Several fountains are still off and not bagged because we haven’t gotten to them yet.”

Sampling results are on the city’s website (look for the last link on the page) for the fountains where test results have been obtained.

A shrouded drinking fountain at Merrick Rose Garden, Lake Street and Oak Avenue.

“We hope to have all fountains in service by Memorial Day,” Stoneback says, “However if high lead concentrations are found, the fountain will remain off.” 

Last year was the first year the city tested all park fountains. Stoneback says several fountains were replaced then and more are scheduled for replacement this year. City staff is working with Ridgeville Park District to make sure their fountains are tested too.  

“Currently we will not open any fountain with lead at 15 parts per billion or higher.  Our long range goal is to have all fountains below 5 ppb,” he says. “But this requires the replacement of several parts (not just the service line) and we are addressing these issues.”  

Stoneback says he suggests that park users let the water run from the fountain for a minute or so before drinking it to run off the water that’s been sitting in the pipes.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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