Water in Elgin, IL

Elgin Water Needs Improvement

Map of where Elgin provides water

Find Out What’s in It and How to Protect Your Health

Is Elgin water safe to drink? Based on recent reports, consuming the drinking water in Elgin could lead to many health issues. The studies also indicate that the water is hard, which could cause costly problems in the home.

The good news is you don’t have to settle for potentially harmful water. Keep reading to find out:

  • Where the city of Elgin’s water comes from
  • Which pollutants the water has tested positive for
  • Steps you can take to keep harmful contaminants out of your water
  • How Angel Water can assist you in cleaning up your water

Where Does the Water in Elgin Come From?

Elgin, IL gets 94% of its drinking water from the Fox River, with the other 6% coming from deep wells. The water receives treatment at the Riverside Treatment Facility in Elgin on the west bank of the river. This facility was built in 1982 and expanded in 1997 to handle 32 million gallons of water per day.

According to the City of Elgin Water Department, the plant uses a multi-step water treatment process, which includes coagulation/sedimentation, lime softening, chlorination and filtration. While this treatment is an effective barrier for some contaminants, it is not perfect. And many natural and industrial pollutants can still make it into Elgin homes.

Elgin chose to treat its water locally rather than purchase it from Chicago because it wanted to be independent. The city saw the Fox River as an excellent source of fresh water and knew treating its own water would be an advantage over neighboring towns that purchase from Chicago. As a result, treating its own water has helped the city attract many businesses and developments over the years.

Is Elgin Water Hard?

Yes, Elgin has very hard water. Along with the presence many dangerous contaminants, tests of Elgin water have also shown a high concentration of hard water minerals. The results show that the city’s water has a hardness level of 171 parts per million or 10 grains per gallon. Water treatment experts consider this amount to be extremely hard, and it can cause many issues, including:

Elgin is far from the only city in Northern Illinois to have hard water problems. In fact, the region has some of the hardest water in the country. For this reason, we regularly recommend water softeners to our Chicagoland customers. We will discuss more about this solution below.

What’s in Elgin Drinking Water?

According to data from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Elgin has alarming levels of multiple contaminants in its water. While these levels don’t exceed the limits put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this doesn’t mean the water is safe to drink. Unfortunately, the EPA hasn’t updated its standards in decades, and many of them aren’t nearly strict enough to protect human health.

The good news is the EWG has taken steps to develop guidelines that are better suited to protect human health. Many of the contaminants detected by recent tests far exceed these stricter guidelines, and we have included information about each of those pollutants below.

This chart gives totals for contaminants that exceeded EWG health guidelines in the years 2014-2020.

Arsenic 0.400 ppb 0.004 ppb
Chromium (Hexavalent) 0.395 ppb 0.02 ppb
Haloacetic Acids (HAA9) 18.5 ppb 0.06 ppb
Nitrate and Nitrite 0.427 ppm 0.14 ppm
Radium-226 and 228 0.39 pCi/L 0.05 pCi/L
Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) 44.5 ppb 0.15 ppb

Here’s more information about each of these contaminants and the issues they can lead to:


Arsenic is a naturally occurring carcinogen regularly found in drinking water throughout the United States. It also can get into the water as a byproduct of the farming or industrial processes that often happen near midwestern towns like Elgin.

Drinking water containing arsenic can increase a person’s risk of bladder, lung and skin cancer. It has also been associated with many other types of cancer, kidney damage and cardiovascular disease.

Chromium )Hexavalent)

Also known as chromium-6, this common contaminant forms as a result of industrial runoff. It gained widespread fame in the 1990s as the subject of the lawsuit in the film Erin Brockovich.

There’s a reason for this pollutant’s infamy as it can lead to many devastating problems including cancer, heart and lung defects and respiratory disease.

Haloacetic Acids

This family of nine disinfectant byproducts frequently form because of chlorine or chloramine treatment. In other words, they are an unwanted result of the water treatment process.

The EWG provides data for the amounts of each haloacetic acid on its website. Three of the individual acids were also over EWG’s health guidelines in Elgin. These include:

  • Dibromoacetic Acid
  • Dichloroacetic Acid
  • Trichloroacetic Acid

The EWG also reports that significant amounts of monobromoacetic acid and monochloroacetic acid were found in Elgin water. However, these totals did not exceed the organization’s guidelines.

Drinking water containing high amounts of haloacetic acids has been associated with cancer, problems during pregnancy and developmental issues.

Nitrate and Nitrite

Nitrate and nitrite are two different forms of nitrogen that get into water from both natural and human-made sources. The most common human-made causes of contamination include fertilizer runoff, animal waste and malfunctioning septic tanks.

Some of the problems associated with these pollutants include oxygen deprivation in infants and a heightened risk of cancer. While both nitrate and nitrite are harmful, nitrite is more toxic and dangerous.

Radium-226 and 228

Radium-226 and 228 are naturally occurring isotopes of the element radium. They are frequently found in the granite bedrock in Illinois and infiltrate the water as it flows through the earth.

Consuming too much radium-226 and 228 can lead to cancer, issues with the kidneys and developmental issues in children. It can also lead to the formation of dangerous radon gas, which is one of the most common causes of lung cancer in the country.

Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Another group of contaminants that can form during water disinfection is the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs). This group includes:

  • Bromodichloromethane
  • Bromoform
  • Chloroform
  • Dibromochloromethane

Not only did these chemicals exceed the EWG health guidelines as a group, but three of the four also surpassed them individually. Bromoform was the only TTHM that was under the limit, but tests still found a significant amount of it in Elgin water too.

TTHMs consumption can heighten a person’s risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the bladder, liver and kidneys.

Other Contaminants Detected

The pollutants listed above are only some of the many contaminants that tests have revealed in the city’s water. Others listed by the EWG include:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • 1-Butanol
  • Barium
  • Chlorate
  • Chloromethane
  • Chromium (total)
  • Dalapon
  • Fluoride
  • Germanium
  • Manganese
  • Molydenum
  • Strontium
  • Vanadium

Even though none of these exceed the EWG’s guidelines, they are still dangerous impurities that Elgin residents should be cautious of. To learn more about the illnesses these contaminants can lead to, please visit the EWG’s Elgin page.

How Can Elgin Residents Keep Their Water Clean?

Sadly, the Elgin water treatment plant cannot fully protect you from potentially harmful contaminants. However, this is no reason for despair.

You have the power to protect your water! The best way to do this is by finding out what is in your water and investing in the right water treatment equipment.

Here are four simple steps Elgin residents can follow to make this happen!

Step 1: Get Your Water Tested

You may be wondering why you need to get your water tested if we just told you what’s in Elgin water. The reason is the test results listed above are from drinking water samples. The water your home receives may or may not contain the same contaminants. It probably has most of them but could also have some unique impurities we didn’t list above.

Therefore, it’s important to have your water tested to know exactly what you’re dealing with. Once you know that, you can invest in the water treatment equipment best designed to prevent those specific pollutants.

We recommend an EPA-certified water test for this step to get the most trustworthy and accurate results. A licensed expert can also help you understand these test results and the best next steps to take.

Step 2: Consider an NSF/ANSI 58 Certified Reverse Osmosis System to Stop Pollutants

While the best solution will depend on your test results, one of the most likely solutions for you will be a reverse osmosis (RO) system. An RO system works by filtering water through a semipermeable membrane, which prevents a vast assortment of contaminants. In fact, it can eliminate most of the pollutants listed on this page, including:

  • Arsenic
  • Chromium (Hexavalent)
  • Haloacetic Acids
  • Nitrate and Nitrite
  • Radium-226 and 228
  • Total Trihalomethanes
  • And more!

If you decide to go with an RO system, we recommend looking for one that’s NSF/ANSI 58 certified. Systems with this certification have gone through many tests to prove that they can effectively treat water. In other words, NSF/ANSI 58 certified RO systems will do what they say they’ll do.

Step 3: Consider an NSF/ANSI 44 Certified Water Softener for Eliminating Hardness

Your test will also more than likely reveal that your water is very hard. In this case, a salt-based water softener will be your best option for getting rid of hard water.

Salt-based softeners work by exchanging the ions that cause hard water with sodium ions. The result is delightfully soft water throughout your entire home.

Like RO systems, the best water softeners are also NSF/ANSI certified. So, you will want to look for softeners with the NSF/ANSI 44 logo on the packaging. Beyond indicating that the softener will effectively soften the water, this certification also signals that it can remove radium-226 and 228 and barium. Studies show that both of these impurities are common in Elgin water.

Step 4: Get Your Equipment Professionally Installed and Maintained

Water treatment equipment is not cheap. Because it’s a significant investment, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. To do this, we recommend getting all equipment installed and regularly maintained by a licensed plumber. It’s the best way to ensure your system will run well for great long-term results.

Get Better Water in Elgin Today!

You have the power to protect your water, and we can help! Angel Water has served residents of Elgin and the surrounding region for more than half a century! Our licensed plumbers perform EPA-certified water tests and install and maintain equipment for best results. It would be our pleasure to help you find the right solution for your home!

Please call us today at (847) 382-7800

or fill out the form below to talk with an expert or schedule a free consultation!

Get A Free Water Test!

Would You Like to Know More About Water Quality in Elgin?

If you want to understand the quality of the water your family depends on everyday, contact us today. One of our representatives is standing by to help you schedule your free water test. We’ll send one of our local water expert to test the water at your tap and explain common problems and solutions for your specific water composition so that you can rest easy, knowing that your family is drinking the healthiest water possible.

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