Neighborhood Meeting Reveals the Crud In Our Pipes

filthy water main, Park Forest
Roderick Ysaguirre of the Village of Park Forest holds a section of a water main removed from beneath the streets. Village officials are counting on unidirectional flushing to remove 90% of this sediment from our pipes. (ENEWSPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Village officials held a town hall meeting this evening at Celebration Ministries, 424 Indianwood Boulevard (See Places of Worship on ENEWSPF). The meeting began at 7 p.m. and ran until about 8:40 p.m. All department heads were on hand to report to residents, members of the Park Forest Police and Fire Departments, as well as staff members from a variety of departments.

This is the third such meeting at that location since 2006. Approximately 40 residents attended.

The meeting began with reports on housing, crime and other issues, and the floor was opened for questions and comments from residents in attendance.

One resident asked why it takes so long, after a burglary, for finger prints to be processed. Suzie Brown inquired on behalf of two residents whose homes were burglarized. She told village officials that finger prints were collected, but residents had heard nothing since.

Park Forest Police Chief Cliff Butz responded, telling residents that real life is not like television. "It takes 18 months," the chief said, for finger prints to be processed by state and federal authorities. After that time, if the alleged perpetrators finger prints are already on file, then police must build their case to make an arrest. If their prints are not on file, Cheif Butz said, sometimes the same offenders commit a crime and are caught 3 or 4 years later for another alleged crime, and at that time their prints are taken and entered into the system. At that time, their prints will alert authorities, and police will work to build their case.

There were questions about speeding, questions about calcium in the water and questions about the "O" signs on some homes.

One timeless piece of advice came from staff and Mayor Ostenburg: if you suspect that a rental property is not registered with the village, or if you suspect that a residence is being rented, please call the Building Department.

Water Plant Supervisor Ron Erickson was also on hand to answer questions about Park Forest water. One of the most impressive examples to this reporter (and Village Board member) was a section of pipe in the back of the room (picture above) showing the accumulated sediment that officials hope to remove, 90% at least, with unidirectional flushing, set to begin soon.


The Village of Park Forest has contracted with M.E. Simpson to carry out a unidirectional flushing of the town’s water mains.

Previously, the Village has conducted flushing of hydrants in effort to clean built-up sediment from the water system. This process has been less-effective recently, with shorter periods of relief.

The newer, unidirectional flushing approach isolates mains and reportedly removes close to ninety percent of build-up.

For the last year, the Village has been in preparation for unidirectional flushing–scheduled this fall–by locating and testing all water valves in the system. Ensuring that all water valves in town are functional is an important step for the isolation of mains for flushing.

At the Board meeting of August 8, Public Works Director Ken Eyer and M.E. Simpson Regional Manager Randy Lusk detailed to Board members and residents how unidirectional flushing should help reduce the occurrences of discolored water.

Questions regarding the Village’s Water Systems Improvement Project can be directed to Public Works Director Ken Eyer at 708-503-7702.

And again from the same page:

Public Works Director Ken Eyer discussed with Village Board Members at an April 4 meeting a proposal to move up the second phase of a valve assessment program. The valve assessment program is a program where underground water main valves, which operate similar to the valves found on typical water piping in bathrooms, that turn off or turn on the supply of water, are assessed for operability and tracked for location.

The Department of Public Works originally planned to carry out a water distribution system valve assessment in two phases; one in the 2010-2011 fiscal year and the other in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.  The first phase was completed in fall of 2010.  Eyer requested the second phase now be moved up after receiving numerous complaints from residents on occurrences of discolored water, resulting from excess build-up of minerals in old water mains.

Based on increased complaints of discoloration, Eyer has planned a newer process to flush sediment from the water system in the Village.

This new flushing process, called unidirectional flushing, is anticipated to have much greater success than conventional flushing done by the Village twice a year.  Before unidirectional flushing can begin, all valves of the water mains must be in working order. The moved-up assessment of the valves will allow staff to repair and replace any valves in need.

Unidirectional flushing is expected to take six to eight weeks to complete. Once completed, it is believe that ninety percent of built-up sediment will be removed from Park Forest’s water system; reducing the occurrences of discolored water.

The Board voted unanimously on April 18 to adopt the proposal to move up the second phase of the valve assessment program.

Again, the Village Board is hoping that engineering estimates are correct, that unidirectional flushing will remove 90% or more of this sludge from our water system.

The writer is a Park Forest Village Trustee.