Aqua Illinois in Hot Water Over Raw Sewage Dumping

- POPLAR GROVE (WTVO) -- A day after heavy rains in April, Marion Benson says she was stunned at what she saw outside her Candlewick Lake home.

"I ran out with my camera and I said 'stop, stop," Benson said. "They had the main guy call me from Aqua and I was absolutely outraged that they would dump sewage in our lake."

Benson watched as Aqua Illinois workers pumped out overflow out of the sewers, sending straight to the Lake.

"They think they can come in and dump sewage. They had not just this site, but they had 3 other sites on our lake that they dumped that day. This was in April and in June they did it again."

An already deteriorating relationship between the Association at Candlewick Lake and the water treatment company has escalated into an even uglier fight after the company told residents it was between a "rock and a hard place" with the water either heading to the lake or residents basements.

With concerns on the rise, the association sent a letter in July to Governor Quinn in an attempt to hold the company's "feet to the fire."

Five days later, their polution fears were confirmed. High levels of E Coli Bacteria prompted the Boone County Health Department to close the beaches. It's stayed that way all summer long, and because of that neighbors stayed away from the water.

"I bet I used it an 8th of what I normally used it," says George Chorvat, a decade-long resident along the waterfront.

"I have grandkids that want to swim in the lake, I want to swim in the lake. No telling what it's done to our property values."

While the community is upset, Illinois Department of Health wants answers. In August, it sent a letter to Aqua Illinois in regards to what they called the "reoccuring discharge of untreated sewage."

Eyewitness News tried to contact the water company on the property, but received no response. The Boone County Health Department declined our repeated requests at an on-camera interview, as did the Illinois Department of Health. The Candlewick Lake Association also referred our request for an on-camera interview to the organization's legal counsel.

"When I talked to the man, I said 'would you like your children swimming in sewage?'" says Benson. "It's ridiculous."

"Aqua just does what they damn well feel like it, and it's wrong, it's absolutely wrong."

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