Volo in Lake County, Illinois Has Ongoing Water Issue of a Different Type Than Arlington Heights

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CB Chicago: Month after month the residents of Volo, Illinois, have turned on their faucets to get brown, foul smelling water, and now they say they have had enough (Jeremy Ross, CBS Chicago).

Volo residents have had an ongoing problem with a foul odor and brown or yellow water. Officials from Volo have said the odor is related to acceptable levels of Hydrogen Sulfide in water. The rotten egg odor is unacceptable to many residents. Official say the intermittent occurrence of Hydrogen Sulfide levels occurs when the village uses a different well for potable water supply.

According to a publication from Cornell University (Water Treatment NOTES: Hydrogen Sulfide in Household Drinking Water [PDF]), water containing hydrogen sulfide, commonly called sulfur water, has a distinctive “rotten egg” or swampy odor. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas formed by the decay of organic matter such as plant material. It is typically found in groundwater containing low levels of dissolved oxygen and a pH less than 6.0. If the pH range of the water is higher (7.0-12.0), the water may contain other forms of sulfur (sulfide or bisulfide). Sulfur problems occur less frequently in surface waters because flowing water is aerated naturally so that the hydrogen sulfide reacts with oxygen and escapes as a gas or settles as a solid.

Sulfur bacteria are also found in many drinking water wells and household distribution systems. These harmless bacteria use natural sulfur compounds in water as a food source, thereby producing hydrogen sulfide. Although sulfur bacteria pose no health risk to
humans, their presence in drinking water may cause objectionable tastes and odors.

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