Sangamon, Co. (ECWd) –
After several years of attending Chatham board meetings, I have truly never seen anything like this. The citizens have worked tirelessly to find that the municipal bonds that were sold from South Sangamon Water Commission (SSWC) did not reflect the true amount of water that the plant can produce. Bonds were sold representing a facility with 3.3 million gallons/day capacity, but the plant was only built to produce 2.2 million gallons/day, of which the wells can’t provide.
There was speculation that the many changes during the building of the water plant were not reflected or disclosed in the bond documents. The citizens believe this was a misrepresentation and can and should be taken seriously. When the citizens reported this to the Board and inferred “bond fraud”, there was no response. None. Around this time, the Moody ratings were downgraded on South Sangamon Water Commission (SSWC) to Baa1; negative outlook. Still no response from the Village Board. The citizens of Chatham are on the hook for upwards of 53 million in bonds, and if we pull out of the agreement, they can take the money from our real estate taxes.
As a side note, the citizens have been arguing for years now to switch back to the previous water supplier, City Water Light & Power (CWLP). The past and current state of the water appears to be the common denominator in which many people are losing hair, having psoriasis or eczema, unexplained health problems such asthma, infections, etc. In addition, they have had to replace water heaters, faucets, refrigerator filters, etc. Let’s just say Chatham, Illinois is a Flint, Michigan on a slower scale.
We have lab data to prove corrosion is occurring. We also have data showing that they have been attempting to correct for corrosion by adding phosphates and changing them or their amount eight times since 2012.
So on to the next fraud. Our fourth water commissioner (the last three stepped down amid conflicts of interest, poor communication, problems at the plant, etc.) stated in his September report to the board that the new fluoride pump has been installed. This is being reported because the original fluoride pump was not sized correctly and has been feeding inconsistent amounts of fluoride since the plant went live on May 10, 2012. At the October SSWC meeting, the question was put forth about the new fluoride pump and if it was installed. The plant manager stated that it has not been installed. The citizens again told the Village Board about the false statement in the commissioner’s report, and again Chatham Village board and Mayor did nothing.
And on to the final fraud. The SSWC monthly reports are online after they approve them at their monthly meetings. A citizen watchdog noticed that the report spreadsheets showing contaminant levels did not have the correct minimum, maximum, and averages. Upon sharing this with the Chatham Village Board and Mayor, the SSWC was directed to look at their reports and “fix” the problems. Very quickly, a “revised” report came out online. It appeared that there was indeed a formula problem and that was corrected. However, in looking at the contaminant daily levels for manganese, the “revised” report showed significantly lower levels of manganese than the original report (not available online). The citizens notified the Chatham Village Board and Mayor of the data errors and explained that data manipulation is unacceptable and this type of misconduct should receive sanctions. Even if it was not a deliberate falsification, it still falls under fraudulent behavior.
We believe that unreliable or inaccurate reporting should not be tolerated. The next meeting had the village engineers stating that “cutting and pasting” problems were to blame. Cutting and pasting problems and formula errors should never be part of a public water supply report.
The Chatham Village Board and SSWC need a lesson on ethics and data integrity. Perhaps they need to look up the meaning of “FRAUD”. It means the wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in a financial or personal gain.
So while the citizens wait for the Securities Exchange Commission and the US EPA Office of Inspector General to investigate these wrongdoings and much more, we wait for our Village Board and the Mayor to right the wrong. So far they have done nothing to help the citizens resolve this serious health crisis.
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