Anonymous letter triggers water plant review

An outside engineering firm will look into allegations of mismanagement and potentially compromised water quality

Allegations of mismanagement and potentially compromised water quality detailed in an anonymous letter to city officials will be investigated by an outside engineering firm.

The Waukegan City Council approved a contract worth just under $80,000 with HR Green at its meeting Monday evening in an 8-0 vote.

"I think that shows that we have nothing to hide, nothing to hide," Mayor Sam Cunningham said, emphasizing his trust in the city's water but adding that residents won't have to take his word for it.

The engineering firm HR Green will review plant operations and data in an effort to determine whether the 14 allegations detailed in a late July letter to Cunningham and the aldermen are true, said Ravi Jayaraman, a senior project manager at HR Green who has over 20 years of experience in potable water.

"(T)he Waukegan Water Plant is in a critical state of disrepair, compromising both drinking water and sufficient water delivery to City resident(s) and businesses," according to a copy of the anonymous letter provided to the News-Sun by community activist Ralph Peterson.

Peterson, who has been a vocal critic of the mayor since Cunningham was sworn in nearly five months ago, said he received the letter in the mail the last week of August and raised the issue at a City Council meeting the following week.

"I'm still not satisfied," Peterson said Tuesday. "I felt that he should have been proactive instead of reactive."

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