Making Sure Your Water is Safe

Information provided to you by: Consumers Illinois Water Company

Why should you test your water?
Clean safe water is a basic human need to drink, to cook, to wash, and to live. For most of us it’s so basic we take it for granted every time we turn on the faucet. But we shouldn’t.
Clean safe water is the result of hard work and vigilance. Our treatment plant operators must follow strict federal regulations and test our water frequently. However, Many Kankakee County residents obtain their water from their own wells. It's up to the owners to test water from their own well to be sure it’s of drinkable quality. Well water quality can be degraded as a result of improper construction, inadequate maintenance, industrial and agricultural activities and sometimes, it’s simply due to natural causes.
What to test for in water?
The most common contaminants found in well water are bacteria and nitrates. Many diseases can be caused by water microbes, although the most common is short-term digestive ailments in most individuals. Specific bacteria can be tested by looking for specific indicator organisms (the absence of which indicates the water is likely to be safe microbiologically). Nitrate is a common chemical that can cause “blue baby” syndrome. Above a certain level (10 milligrams per liter), the Illinois Department of Public Health recommends that infants under 6 months of age and pregnant women should not drink the water. We recommend that private wells be tested for disease producing organisms and nitrate yearly or whenever there is a color change of your water. Fluoride is generally tested at the request of your dentist or other health official.
Consumers Illinois Water Company provides the above tests to private well owners. These tests are typically recommended as part of routine well maintenance. There are also many excellent commercial laboratories in Illinois that provide these tests as well as many others that may be needed in specific instances.
What if testing shows a problem?
Bacterial contamination or chemical levels in excess of recommendations are fairly common. If your water is unsafe bacteriologically, you will need to disinfect your well (see Well Chlorination & Disinfection for more information). If you exceed a chemical limit, we can tell you where you can get information on how to correct your problem.
What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is federal legislation passed by the United States Congress in 1974 and most recently updated in 1996. It’s purpose is to ensure the safety of the Nation’s drinking water supplies. The SDWA required the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop drinking water regulations and establish maximum contaminant levels for water supplies used by the public. Currently, most private residential water supplies are not regulated by the law. However, if your well is used by more than 25 permanent residents, or if your well is used by the public (a well used by a restaurant), it is regulated by the SDWA.
In Illinois, the Environmental Protection Agency has primacy (the responsibility to notify the public about the standards established by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the power to enforce those standards).

For clarification of this material or information on how to have your well tested we can be reached at (815) 935-6530. Our laboratory is open 8:00am – 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.