Deerfield will switch testing of its water away from the Highland Park laboratory which currently does the work in favor of another nearby facility after the Village concluded the neighboring lab did not communicate information as fast as it could.
The decision by Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street is the latest residue from the circumstances leading up to Deerfield issuing a boil order August 12. After an investigation lasting more than two weeks, Street concluded the current lab should have communicated the necessity of a boil order two days earlier.
“We’re sorry to lose them,” Highland Park City Manager David Knapp said. “They’ve been a good customer. We do it at cost so there is no financial loss.” Deerfield currently buys its water from Highland Park and has no plans to switch that. Knapp looks forward to a continued good relationship with its water customer to the west.
The current contract between the two municipalities has at least 25 years remaining, according to Street.
Deerfield is currently looking at a private lab in Northbrook, the Lake County facility in Libertyville and the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency laboratory in Lake Bluff.
Knapp holds fast to his position that Deerfield water operator Derek Gehrke should have gleaned the seriousness of the situation from what he learned August 10 from Highland Park Water Plant Operator Jim Mitchell. Street defends Gehrke’s actions.
“Based on our investigation we now believe the results were not communicated in a meaningful way,” Street said. There was not any urgency in the communication. What the results would mean to a chemist does not mean the same thing to a water operator.”
Knapp believes Mitchell’s communication should have struck warning bells for Gehrke. “The test showed there was something wrong with the water,” Knapp said. “You don’t have to be a chemist to see that.”
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