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The City of Evanston’s Water Department recently passed the biennial inspection by State Department of Public Health. Not only did the City pass, but it passed with a perfect score (zero deviations) for the second time in a row.
The team of chemist Eleanore Meade and microbiologist Al Diaz-Mazarredo deserve the credit for the department’s success, said Kevin Lookis, assistant superintendent of water production. “Even the inspector said he had never seen a team work so well together,” he said.
Clean, safe water comes from constant monitoring and testing, said Mr. Lookis. The department “takes samples every day” and runs some tests “every hour.” In addition, they run approximately 80 tests from samples collected all over the City every month.
John Spanczak, the Illinois Department of Public Health official charged with inspecting all 37 state laboratories in the northern half of Illinois, described the inspection process as rigorous and difficult. The inspection is made up of three parts: the analysts, equipment and facilities, and records. For the analysts, the inspector observes each technician conducting tests. “I don’t sign off until I know they’re competent,” said Mr. Spanczak. The equipment and facilities are also inspected for conformation with Illinois rules and regulations. Finally, the lab’s records are thoroughly reviewed. Even something as simple as failing to record a refrigerator cleaning can result in a deviation.
Passing with zero deviations is rare. “Believe me, that’s not easy,” stated Mr. Spanzcak. “Zero deviations over four years is … a testament that they’re doing a good job.”
With water this clean and safe, City officials are hoping no Evanstonian will reach for bottled water but instead turn on the tap.