Morgan Park Academy special event Feb2017

  Water main work proceeds April 13 at Sterling 
  and Dundee avenues in Flossmoor.
(Photo by Eric 
  Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The replacement of water pipes in Flossmoor marches on after the village board on Monday, May 1, decided materials being used were safe.

The issue of new piping came to light after some residents questioned the safety of plastic piping.

A 2012 bond referendum was approved to fund the replacement of about six miles of leaky water mains throughout Flossmoor. The bond sale provided $7.8 million for the project.
Work has already begun, said Public Works Director John Brunke. This year crews are digging on Dundee, Perth, Sterling and Argyle Avenues between Heather Road and Brumley Drive.  The next area of the project is on Berry Lane between Flossmoor Road and Sunset Avenue.
Flossmoor’s new water mains are made of plastic. The village has used copper to connect those mains to residences in the past. Beginning in 2016, Brunke said some of those previously copper pipes were being replaced with high density polyethylene, or HDPE. 
Some residents believe HDPE presents a health concern and at a previous meeting provided the board with materials they said supported their argument. On Monday village officials presented a counter argument with their own sources.
“The board discussed the matter and felt that with no authoritative evidence for (the National Sanitation Foundation) to reconsider, they are comfortable with proceeding with the material. (HDPE) is an approved material (by NSF) and now permitted in the state plumbing code,” Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said.
In addition to NSF, Wachtel cited the American Water Works Association and the Plastic Pipe Institute (PPI) in a memo to the board. She said she shared the documents provided by a resident with Camille George Rubeiz, director of engineering for PPI.
In a letter to the board, Rubeiz said none of the documents Flossmoor provided referenced the types of materials the village will be using. He said some referenced materials used in home plumbing systems while others studied plastics not sold in the United States. 
Rubeiz also provided a list of seven other municipalities using the same HDPE pipe that Flossmoor uses. 
The cost of the plastic pipe is much less than the cost of copper. In her memo, Wachtel said the village received a quote for copper pipe. The total additional cost would be $9,1977.60 for this year’s project.
Wachtel said the plastic pipe was also attractive because, unlike copper, it comes in long rolls without joints that can be susceptible to leaks.
“The village takes our responsibility of being entrusted with the public’s safety very seriously,” Wachtel said. “We would certainly not knowingly risk people’s health and safety to save on project costs.”
The village will allow residents in this phase of the project to select copper pipe at their own expense, Wachtel said. Those homeowners will be notified soon.

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