Water Quality Information
The Village takes the health, well-being and safety of all water customers very seriously. This page overviews the Village's basic water quality information and focuses heavily on questions that have been previously received about lead. Customers are encouraged to review this page and contact the Village directly with any questions or concerns.
On-going sampling has confirmed that lead levels in the water supplied by the Village to our customers are undetectable. Northbrook's water supply meets all Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards, and has consistently met these standards for many years. View past years Consumer Confidence Reports:
Maintenance on Water Service Line? Don’t Forget to Run the Water!
After any repair or other work is done to the water service to your home, please take the following steps as recommended by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to minimize your exposure to any lead that may have been released.
Flush all your faucets using these steps:
- Remove faucet aerators from all cold water taps in the home.
- Beginning in the lowest level of the home, run the cold water full force at all taps, making sure the drain is clear.
- Let the water run for a least 30 minutes at the last tap you opened (top floor)
- Turn off each tap starting with the taps in the highest level of the home. Be sure to run water in bathtubs and showers as well as faucets.
- Do not consume tap water, run hot water faucets, or use an icemaker or filtered water dispenser until after flushing is complete. If you have a filtered water dispenser, replace the filter after flushing.
on Lead in Water Supplies Lead is a metal found in natural deposits which is harmful to human health. The most common means of ingestion of lead is swallowing or inhaling lead paint chips and dust. However, drinking water can also contain lead. Be assured that the Village of Northbrook continues to work to provide safe, high-quality drinking water to residents and business within the community
Lake Michigan water is virtually lead free and water leaving Northbrook's Water Plant is lead free. Lead contamination, if it does occur, results from corrosion of the element from lead service lines and/or household plumbing. To protect Northbrook's water supply from potential lead contamination, poly-orthophosphate is added to Northbrook's water supply to form a protective coating inside of water lines and plumbing fixtures to reduce the possibility of lead leaching into the water.
Lead Service Lines
The service line connects your home to the Village's water main. The Village owns the portion of the line between the water main and the shutoff valve located in the parkway. The property owner is responsible for the line between the shutoff valve and the house. In homes built before the mid-1950s, the service line was constructed of lead pipe, but any service lines installed after this date were required to be made of copper. In the case of demolitions and large-scale remodels, the Village began to require copper services lines be installed in 1990 and 1995, respectively.
If the water main was replaced on your block after 1988, the service line from the water main to the shutoff valve in the parkway was replaced with copper pipe. However, the homeowner's portion of the service line, from the house to the shutoff valve, may still be lead pipe.
The homeowner can look at the pipe material prior to water meter to determine the type of pipe. Lead pipe will have a grey color whereas copper pipe is dark orange in color, for more information view the Lead Service Line Visual Aid (PDF).
Solder is used to connect metal piping. In 1986, lead solder was banned from use in household plumbing. If your house was built before 1986, your plumbing may have lead solder.
Brass Faucets, Valves & Fittings
Almost all faucets, valves and fittings have brass components. Until 2014, brass faucets and fittings sold in the U.S. and labeled "lead-free" could contain up to 8% lead. Effective January 2014, The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act specifies that these materials may not contain more than 0.25% lead.
What can Residents Do to Minimize Lead Exposure in Drinking Water?
- Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula (cold water is less likely than hot water to leach metal from pipes and fittings).
- Any time there has not been water use for several hours, residents should run their cold water faucet until the water gets as cold as is typical for that faucet. If there has been recent heavy water use, such as showering or laundry, this could take as little as five to thirty seconds. Otherwise, it could take two minutes or longer. The goal is to get to fresh water that has not been sitting in your household pipes or service line for a long time period, and every house is different.
- Install a lead filter on the principle potable water faucets used in your home, particularly if you are pregnant or have children under age six.
How Will I Know if Lead is in My Drinking Water?
Residents concerned about lead in the water may wish to have their water tested. The Village of Northbrook provides lead testing to its residents. Residents who wish to undertake their testing independent of the Village should do so at an IEPA certified laboratory. While the Village of Northbrook does not endorse or recommend any particular testing labs, the following are available locally:
Suburban Laboratories, Inc.
For residential home water testing visit drinkingwaterlabs.com
Severn Trent Laboratories (TestAmerica Chicago)
History of Lead in the Village of Northbrook
- 1950: The Village began requiring copper service lines for all new construction homes.
- 1986: Lead-based solder in plumbing was banned.
- 1988: The Village began replacing the portion of lead services in the right of way with copper that was encountered during water main replacement projects.
- 1990: The Village began requiring the replacement of lead lines for properties being demolished.
- 1992: The Village began IEPA mandated lead/copper sampling with 60 homes being tested each year
- 1995: The Village began requiring the replacement of lead lines for properties undergoing significant remodeling work involving plumbing systems with Standard Operating Procedure 81-015-2 (PDF) and began to add poly-orthophosphate to our water for lead and copper corrosion.
- 1996: The Village developed Standard Operating Procedure 81-023-00 (PDF) which provides a cost sharing mechanism for customers with lead services lines.
- 2000: The IEPA reduced the samples from 60 samples each year to 30 samples every three years due to the Village having successful test results.
- 2002: From 2002 to present lead samples taken in accord with the Lead/Copper Rule have resulted in only two locations where the level of lead exceeded the IEPA action level of 15 micro grams per liter. Subsequent sampling at these locations demonstrated levels below this limit. Testing at locations where lead lines have been disturbed indicates that sometimes lead levels do rise after such disturbances, normally decreasing within a few weeks or months.