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Tap Water

Lead Risk in Tap Water

In regards to recent stories regarding Flint, Michigan and safety of tap water, the Village wants to make residents aware of the risk of lead in tap water.

Lead does not come from the treatment plant and water mains; it comes from lead service lines running between the water main in the street and the home, and from plumbing inside the home.  There are still Winnetka homes that utilize lead water service lines.

The Village monitors the drinking water in the distribution system for lead.  The standard for lead in tap water by which the Village must comply, set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is less than 15 micrograms per liter in at least 90% of samples taken.  Test results from Winnetka samples are well below the action level.  The test results for the water system are published in the summer edition of the Winnetka Report. Click here to see past editions of the required Annual Consumer Water Report.

Since 1994, the Village has also taken steps to prevent lead corrosion from occurring.   The Water Plant treats the water with a corrosion control treatment that is safe for human health and helps build a protective coating around pipes.  Drinking water also contains dissolved minerals that, over time, form a mineral scale or coating on the inside of pipes and fixtures.  Once this coating forms, there is a protective barrier between any metal in the plumbing and the water.

More detail about Winnetka’s tap water and distribution system are addressed in the following Frequently Asked Questions:

Question:  How can I tell if my water service is lead?

Answer:  Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft.  The service line typically enters your residence near your water meter.  Lead service lines can be easily identified by carefully scratching them with a key or coin.  If the pipe is made of lead, the area you’ve scratched will turn a bright silver color.  A certified plumber can tell you for sure if you have a lead service line, check for lead solders in your internal pipes and look for fixtures containing lead.  You may also contact the Water & Electric Department at (847) 716-3558, and Staff will check water service records for your residence.

Question:  What steps can I take to protect my family from lead in tap water?


  • The longer water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain.  Running cold water from the faucets you use for drinking can improve water quality by drawing fresh water in the home, particularly after long periods of time when water has not been used. To conserve water, other household water usage activities such as showering, washing clothes, flushing toilets and running the dishwasher are effective methods for flushing pipes and allowing water from the distribution system to enter the household pipes.
  • When purchasing replacement plumbing products, make sure the products have been tested and certified to “lead-free” standards.
  • Consider installing a home treatment device.  The effectiveness of these devices in reducing lead can vary greatly, so it is important that the model selected is certified to reduce lead according to NSF/ANSI-53. This certification should be listed on the product packaging.
  • Consider replacement of your lead service lines and/or any plumbing fixtures that contain lead.

Question:  Why doesn’t the Village replace lead water services?

Answer:  Private property water services are owned by the customer.  The Village will make repairs to a leaking water service in the public right-of-way.  However, replacement of the lead water service is the responsibility of the customer.

Question:  Do local construction activities affect the amount of lead in the water? 

Answer:  If work is performed on your individual lead water service, it could increase the amount of lead in your water service.  During repair activities or partial replacement of the lead service line, the corrosion control coating is potentially disrupted at the site of the repair and/or some lead may be released into the water during repairs.  Homeowners should flush internal plumbing to reduce the amount of lead-containing particles and sediment entering the home immediately following work on lead service lines.  Do not consume tap water, open hot water faucets, or use an icemaker until after flushing is complete.  Boiling water does not remove lead.  Remove any sediment in faucet aerators.  Running cold water from the faucets you use for drinking can improve water quality by drawing fresh water in the home, particularly after long periods of time when water has not been used. You may also consider installation of a home treatment device.

Question:  If I have concerns about lead in my tap water, can I have my water tested?

Answer:  Yes.  Unfortunately, this is not a test that the Village’s Water Plant can perform.  If you want to have your water tested, you should contact a certified laboratory.  One such facility in the area is PDC Labs at 309-683-1743. Tests run approximately $60 per sample.

Question:  Where can I get additional information?

Answer:  Additional information is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) or at

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