Mount Prospect, IL
Water in Mount Prospect, Illinois
While Mount Prospect used to get its water from a network of seventeen deep public wells, today only five of those are on standby for emergency use as the city has switched to getting its water from Lake Michigan, like many others in northern Illinois. The water is first treated by Chicago’s Department of Water Management at the Jardine Water Purification Plant, then pumped to the Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (NSMJAWA) reservoirs.
From there, it’s pumped through water transmission mains to seven northwest communities, one of which is Mount Prospect, which has three receiving structures placed throughout the city. The water is then distributed to residents.
Lake Michigan water is the norm throughout Chicagoland, but the safety of it is far from a settled issue. Residents of neighborhoods throughout the region face potential exposure to lead, mercury, chromium, bacteria, volatile organic compounds, and more, and while most of these are within recommended limits, some aren’t. Others need revised EPA guidelines, and yet others just aren’t tested for enough. With lead, for example, the City of Mount Prospect’s own website merely states that utilities aren’t required to notify the public of water exceeding the EPA’s action level unless more than 10% of homes tested exceed that level, and reminds readers to run water before drinking to minimize exposure.
2 contaminants above legal limits.
3 Contaminants below legal limits, but above health guidelines.
15 Contaminants found within health guidelines and legal limits.
About Mount Prospect
Like all the rest of the towns here, the land that is now Mount Prospect was originally inhabited by Native Americans. It’s thought that originally there were temporary or semi-nomadic settlements in the area, but by the 1700s it was settled by the Potawatomi tribe. They held control over it until shortly after Black Hawk’s War, when the 1833 Treaty of Chicago ceded those lands to Yankee settlers.
They cleared the land and established farms, but by 1850 most of them had left for various reasons including the California gold rush. It was German immigrants that replaced the Yankees, mostly Lutherans from southern Germanic states, who had a lasting impact on the character of the area. Intent on preserving their culture in the New World, the new inhabitants created a mostly German-speaking farming community and in 1848 erected Saint John Lutheran Church.
The railway came through the area in 1850, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that an entrepreneur named Ezra Eggleston built a train station, laid roads, divided the land into city blocks, and gave Mount Prospect its name. He had planned to sell the land off after this development at a profit, but his timing was bad—after the Chicago Fire in 1871 and the Panic of 1873 (called the Great Depression at the time), everyone was too busy rebuilding their lives to buy new land.
Nevertheless, after Eggleston sold off his share of the land, people started trickling in. Non-Germans started arriving and building homes and businesses, diversifying the population and kick-starting the local economy. The village was incorporated upon reaching a population of 300 in 1917, but the real population growth was still to come, in the land speculation of the 20s, the postwar suburban migration, and the baby boom.
Mount Prospect has since flourished in the modern era. Randhurst Village, as it’s now known, was built in the early 60s and was the Midwest’s first air-conditioned indoor mall. Today it’s a major retail and tourism center in the area, complementing the Kensington Business Center, home to many national and international companies.
Next year, Mount Prospect will be celebrating one hundred years since incorporation—only time will tell what prospects the next hundred will bring.
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