Southeast Rockford

Feasibility Study and Proposed Groundwater Plan

Southeast Rockford Groundwater Contamination Superfund Project

July 1995

Rockford, Illinois

Background

In 1989, an area in southeast Rockford was placed on the National Priorities List (commonly called the Superfund List), because industrial solvents from unknown sources were found in private drinking water wells and one public well. In two separate actions, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) connected 547 homes with affected private wells to the Rockford public water supply and installed a granulated activated carbon filter system on the affected public well #35. The IEPA has completed an environmental investigation, which identifies the major sources and areas of contamination, and a feasibility study of five possible groundwater response actions. In 1996, possible remedies for the contamination sources will be proposed for a second response action.

What are the contaminants?

The contaminants are industrial solvents belonging to a group of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of the VOCs found in the southeast Rockford groundwater are 1,1,1 trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene.

What is the problem with these chemicals?

Projected Contaminant Plume and Buffer Zone

Contaminant Plume
Larger Map

If these chemicals are present in drinking water in high enough concentrations, they can pose a threat to human health. The Rockford public water supply is tested regularly for these chemicals, and water that does not meet USEPA public water supply standards is not distributed to the public so the public water supply is safe. Drinking water from private wells, however, may be a problem if the wells are located in the area of contaminated groundwater.

Proposed Plan For Groundwater Response Action

What is the proposed groundwater plan?

The IEPA and the USEPA have studied five possible response actions for the contaminated groundwater and recommend Option 2a, " Use restrictions", as the proposed groundwater plan. Remedies for the sources of contamination will be considered in 1996. For the purpose of this study, all options assume the continued use of the carbon treatment unlit on the affected public well #35 and control of the contaminant sources.

Groundwater Options

1. No action. Monitoring wells would be sampled regularly for 205 years. Estimated cost: $1,124,000

2a. Use restrictions.* This option includes water mains down the streets and service connections (from the street to the house) for approximately 400 homes located in the area predicted to be affected by the groundwater contamination within the next 70 years. The IEPA used the assumptions most protective of human health when determining the area which may be affected in 70 years. In addition, water mains (but not service connections) would be laid in streets for approximately 200 additional homes which are near, but outside, the 70 year plume. Monitoring wells would be sampled regularly to evaluate the movement of the contamination plume. If contamination moves into unanticipated areas, public water connections would be offered to those with threatened private wells in this new area also. Contaminants would be removed from the aquifer by natural processes such as becoming attached to soil particles or degrading into harmless chemicals. It is estimated that the contaminants would be removed from the aquifer in approximately 205 years. Estimated cost: $3,314,000

2b. Limited action. This option is similar to Option 2a with the addition that a highly contaminated portion of groundwater would be actively treated by installing four pumping wells west of 20th Street, removing contaminants by air stripping, and discharging treated water to a nearby storm sewer at limits set by the IEPA. Natural processes would remove the contaminants in the portion of the plume downgradient of the pumping wells. Treatment of contaminated groundwater would take approximately 125 years. Estimated cost: $10,021,000.

3a. Treatment of all groundwater and off site discharge. This option is similar to Option 2a with the addition that contaminants from all of the approximate 140 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater would be removed by air stripping after the water has been extracted by 22 pumping wells. The treated water would be discharged to the storm sewer or surface water at limits set by the IEPA. Treatment of all the groundwater would take approximately 75 years. Estimated cost: $50,723,000.

3b. Treatment of all groundwater and on site discharge. This option is the same as Option 3a except after treatment by air stripping, groundwater meeting federal drinking water standards would be discharged to the Rockford public water supply system for use by water supply customers. Estimated cost: $20,362,000.

* IEPA and USEPA preferred option and proposed plan.

All of these options assume control of contamination sources and continued use of the granular activated carbon system on public well #35.

Why do the IEPA and USEPA prefer Option 2a?

The IEPA and the USEPA prefer Option 2a for several reasons including:

  1. It protects public health by supplying public water to those with private wells that may be affected by contaminated water within the next 70 years. (See map.) The IEPA used the assumptions most protective of human health when determining the area which may be affected in 70 years.
  2. It allows flexibility since groundwater monitoring and water mains in streets adjacent to the hookup area are provided, and additional homes may be connected to the public water supply if monitoring indicates additional connections are necessary to protect public health.
  3. It protects the environment because it assumes contaminant source control at a later date, thus reducing the amount of contamination over time and allowing natural processes to remove the remainder of the contaminants from the aquifer.
  4. It meets all state and federal applicable laws.
  5. It is the most cost effective.
  6. It is more implementable than Option 3a, because 3a would require the City of Rockford to alter the public water supply distribution system.

Will businesses located in the proposed area be provided a public water supply connection?

Yes. Any residence or business located in the hookup area that uses private well water for drinking will be connected to the Rockford public water supply under the proposed remedy.

If my house or business is in the area proposed for public water connections, will I have to pay for the connections?

No. Either the potentially responsible parties or the IEPA and the USEPA will pay for the water mains down your street and the service connection from the street to your house or business. In the past, the City of Rockford has waived hookup fees. The only cost to the occupant would be the monthly water bill.

If your house or business is in the area proposed for water mains only (see map) you would not be provided a service connection from the street to the building, because your well water meets the same standards as the Rockford public water supply and is predicted to be unaffected by the groundwater contamination plume within in the next 70 years. If future monitoring indicates that your well will be affected, you will be provided a service connection at that time.

If I have connected my house or business to the public water supply at my own expense, will my costs be reimbursed?

No. The Superfund law does not allow for the reimbursement of past costs.

May I retain the use of my private well if I choose to connect to the Rockford public water supply under this proposed plan?

No. Everyone who agrees to a public water connection under this proposed plan must sign an agreement to allow their well to be plugged, at no cost to the property owner.

If I have my house or business connected to the Rockford public water supply under this proposed plan, must my property become part of the City of Rockford?

In the past, before allowing connection to the public water supply, the City of Rockford has required owners to sign an agreement to be annexed into the city when their property becomes contiguous or next to city property.

Will I be forced to connect to the public water supply if I want to retain my private well and my house is in the designated hookup area?

No. Before a house is connected to the Rockford public water supply, the owner must give written permission. However in the past, if a well fails, county ordinance has been used to prohibit the drilling of new wells in a contaminated area. If landowners refuse connection to the public water supply when it is offered under this proposed plan, the IEPA and the USEPA will not pay for a connection in the future. The IEPA and USEPA may also take additional steps in the future to protect residents from drinking water from contaminated wells.

Public Comments

How do I submit public comments on the feasibility study and proposed groundwater plan?

You may submit written comments on all options to:

John Williams
IEPA Hearing Officer
2200 Churchill Road
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276.

For Additional Information:

The complete feasibility study and proposed plan for the groundwater response action and other project documents will be placed in two repositories for public review:

Rockford Public Library
Rock River Branch
3134 11th Street
815/398-7514
(Call ahead for library hours)

Ken-Rock Community Center
3218 11th Street
815/398-8864

The Administrative Record File (current as of 1/95) is on microfiche at:

Rockford Public Library
Main Branch
(215 North Wyman)

For further information contact:

Tammy Mitchell
Community Relations Coord.
Illinois EPA
1021 N. Grand Ave. E.
Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
Phone: (217) 524-2292
Thomas Williams
Project Manager
Illinois EPA
1021 N. Grand Ave. E.
Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
Phone: (815) 223-1714

Glossary

Aquifer
An underground formation (such as rock or sand) which contains water that can supply wells.
Feasibility Study
A study which identifies :and evaluates the most appropriate technical approaches for resolving contamination problems at a Superfund site. The alternatives are evaluated using various criteria including effectiveness in protecting human health and the environment, permanence, community acceptance, implementability, and cost.
Groundwater
Water beneath the ground.
Monitoring well
A well, installed at a known depth, used to measure groundwater characteristics such as the presence or absence of contamination, the distance to the water table, and the direction and speed of groundwater flow.
National Priorities List
The USEPA's nationwide list of hazardous waste sites that pose the greatest actual or potential risk to public health or the environment. Each site on the list qualifies for an in-depth investigation and remedy if needed.
Plume
Groundwater that contains contaminants from a specific source or combination of sources.
Potentially responsible parties
Parties that may be held responsible for investigation and cleanup costs under the federal Superfund law.
Superfund
The common name for the federal program established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 as amended in 1986. The Superfund law authorizes USEPA to investigate and cleanup the nation's most serious hazardous waste sites. The law also allows the USEPA to delegate some authority to the state IEPA.
Volatile organic compounds
Volatile means the compounds vaporize readily at room temperature. Organic means the compounds contain carbon.