Lead Testing in Drinking Water
The City of Highland Park's water treatment facility provides potable water for all water customers. While the water meets or exceeds state and national standards, private service lines may be tested by homeowners to ensure that tap water in homes is safe from contaminants caused by old private connections, plumbing or fixtures.
Highland Park has an ongoing lead control program that has been in place for 26 years. This incorporates an EPA recommended corrosion control treatment at the Water Treatment Plant and periodic testing of selected homes to measure treatment effectiveness. The City of Highland Park complies with all sampling regulations, including those that are directed towards single-family dwellings.
In 2016, Mayor Nancy Rotering initiated an annual program to test all City-owned buildings for lead even though there is currently no federal or state law requiring the testing of drinking water in public buildings. Testing is the best way for public organizations to know if there are elevated levels of lead in the drinking water and to quickly eliminate any potential problems.
On July 16, 2018 the City of Highland Park, continuing with its commitment to provide safe drinking water, will commence the annual testing of all water fountains accessible to the public.
City staff will collect water samples from all City-owned buildings, and send to a certified laboratory and tested for lead. Testing is the best way for organizations to know if there are elevated levels of lead in the drinking water and to quickly eliminate any potential problems. The City’s water production and distribution system meets or exceeds state and national standards and falls within United States and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) levels for safe use and consumption. The USEPA action level for lead is 15 parts per billion at which point remedial action is recommended.
In 2017, out of the 168 samples collected, 13 samples had a lead action level over 15 ppb. The fixtures were shut down, replaced and re-tested to ensure they meet or exceed safety standards. The testing also revealed 13 additional fixtures that indicated lead concentrations between 6 ppb – 14 ppb. Though these results were within satisfactory standards according to the USEPA, the City also shut down fountains/faucets as a proactive measure. The fixtures are being repaired and will not be available for use until they are remediated. The findings are isolated to specific water dispensing fixtures and are not systemic problems with the City’s water supply. Please see the list of sample results for 2017.
Please see the list of sample results for 2016.
For more information on the lead testing initiative, see our lead testing FAQ.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) action level for lead is 15 parts per billion at which point remedial action is recommended. For those fixtures with unsatisfactory lead levels, City staff turned off and covered the affected water fixtures as soon as confirmation was received of lead presence in those fixtures. The City took immediate steps to secure the sites and is in the process of replacing the impacted plumbing and fixtures. The lead testing results are isolated to specific fixtures that were tested and are not reflective of the City’s water production or distribution system. The replaced water fixtures will be retested and won’t be turned back on until fully remediated.
For more detailed information, please see the link understanding the issues of lead in drinking water.
Homeowners should be aware of three potential sources of lead in drinking water. In order of importance, they are: lead service lines, lead-tin solder joined copper pipes typically installed prior to 1986, and brass water contact surfaces of faucets. Lead service lines are typically only present in older homes built prior to 1940. Those homes may still have a lead service line. The three main preventative measures to ensure the water in your home is lead-free are to flush your piping, test your water, and identify your service line material. A certified plumber can confirm if a lead service line is present, check for lead solders in internal pipes, and look for water fixtures containing lead.
If you are concerned about lead exposure, you can have the water in your home tested for lead. The City of Highland Park Water Treatment Plant laboratory is not certified for metals analysis. Please see the link of accredited labs for lead testing for a list of laboratories that can test residential water samples.