Glasford residents say they’re paying more for water they can’t drink

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:51 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - Water costs are going up, but people in Glasford feel they’re paying for something they don’t want to drink.

The water quality is a bit of an open secret in the small village with just over 1,000 water customers.

Richilynn Garcia has lived there since she was 16 years old. She and her family of four limit their water for showering, laundry, dishes, and occasionally cooking.

Their water bill was around $200 this month, which she said is about $40 more than the month before. It’s not because of the price that the Garcias are limiting their water use for, but the quality of the water instead.

“It corrodes our faucets, our water heaters, sinks, tubs, toilets. It’s not drinkable. It’s got a foul smell to it,” she said.

Illinois American, which has owned and operated Glasford’s water system since 2019, said the state approved a rate increase of around $7 per month for water and $35 per month for wastewater. Each individual home’s increase could vary.

“This change in rates was driven primarily by more than $1.1 billion in completed or planned investment by Illinois American Water,” the company said in a statement to 25News. “Investments include the replacement, lining, and installation of approximately 141 miles of aging water and wastewater pipelines. Investments also include, among others, upgrading water and wastewater treatment plants, storage tanks, wells, pumping stations, fire hydrants, meters, manholes, and more across the state.”

For Garcia and other residents, it’s not about the money. They feel they don’t get what they’re paying for.

“We are tired of high, high water bills for water we can’t even drink,” she said.

The water has a sulfuric and egg-like smell. Residents throughout town said the salty, sulfuric taste is worse than the smell. Residents said they do not drink the tap water and could be seen buying cases and jugs of bottled water.

A corner stand near Main Street offers filtered water for 50 cents a gallon.

A stand in Glasford that sells drinking water for 50 cents a gallon. It claims to use a 6-part...
A stand in Glasford that sells drinking water for 50 cents a gallon. It claims to use a 6-part filtration process.(WEEK)

The Garcias buy two cases of water a week, and six-gallon jugs to make coffee and lemonade. Some students refuse to drink the water at the school building and bring bottled water from home.

Garcia said they don’t give the water to the dog to drink.

When they do use the village’s water -- for laundry, showering, and other household uses -- their clothes and bodies sometimes retain the smell. Garcia’s bathroom had a sulfur smell hanging in the air.

Faucets, showerheads, and tub drains are covered in corrosion and what looks like limescale. Residents reported in passing they have to buy water heaters every two to five years.

A faucet in Glasford
A faucet in Glasford(Courtesy: Richilynn Garcia)
Buildup on a Glasford showerhead.
Buildup on a Glasford showerhead.(Courtesy: Richilynn Garcia)

“We have made -- and continue to make -- improvements in the Glasford system,” Illinois American wrote in their statement.

Data from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency shows there’s no high level of chemicals in the water. There was no data available for lead and copper testing on the EPA website.

Illinois American also said they’ve only received eight customer complaints from the Glasford area since 2021.

Residents like Garcia remain skeptical.

“I’m not saying anybody in this town has gotten sick from it. I don’t know that, but the way that it tastes, the way that it smells, there’s no way this water is completely normal,” Garcia said.