Evanston advises residents to flush water through the spigots of your home if there has been no water usage for more than six hours.

This recommendation was contained in a statement released Thursday in reaction to a Chicago Tribune article Wednesday about lead in Chicago’s drinking water as a result of water main replacement and water meter installation.

While there is no detectable lead in the water provided to the Evanston community, according to the statement, your water service line and home plumbing might contain lead particles that could leach into your water supply.

Following is a complete text of the city’s statement:

The Chicago Tribune published an article in the September 25th edition with reference to lead levels in drinking water.  The focus of the article was on elevated lead levels as a result of water main replacement and water meter installation. 

The facts in the article about lead levels increasing following disruption of the water service pipe during underground construction cannot be disputed.  However, the simple solution is to follow the recommendation to flush water through the pipeline to remove any lead particulates that may have come loose during the construction.  This is accomplished by opening all spigots in your home and letting the water flow for three to five minutes. 

In Evanston, the vast majority of the water services (the pipeline that carries the water from the water main in the street to the water meter in the home) are constructed of lead pipe.  Evanston has been adding a blended ortho/poly phosphate to the drinking water since 1992 to form a thin coating on the interior of the water service line that mitigates the water from actually coming in contact with the lead.

When a new water main is installed, the City replaces the portion of the water service between the water main and the shut off valve in the parkway, with a new copper pipe.  The new copper pipe is then reconnected to the existing water service that the property owner is responsible for, between the shut off valve and the water meter.  This work can cause sediments and particles to become loose as well as causing the blended phosphate coating to be disturbed.

It is a good practice to flush water through the water service any time that there has not been water usage for more than 6 hours.  This might be overnight, or during the day when parents are at work or children are at school. 

Most water services in Evanston are 1-inch diameter and approximately 100 feet long.  By flushing 5 gallons of water through the pipeline, you will remove all of the water that was within the lead pipe water service line and begin drawing fresh water from the water main.  Flushing the toilet and running water to wash your hands will require about 2 gallons of water.  Taking a shower will flush the entire water service line.

There is no detectable lead in the water that is provided to the Evanston community.  Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with water service line and home plumbing.  The City of Evanston is committed to providing as much educational information as possible to assist residents in reducing exposure to lead via our drinking water. 

Please contact the Utilities Department via 311 (847-448-4311) or at for additional information.  Also, more information is available at the USEPA website.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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