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ARTICLE 2: Is Barrington's Water Supply "Good?"
Where does natural water quality come from? In the Barrington area, it is a result of the last melting glaciers that left behind soils and mineral deposits that comprise the shallow aquifer system – the source of 98% of the area’s water, including Barrington’s.
What does it mean to have “good water quality?”
Most people would say that good water quality is combination of water that is completely safe to drink and pleasing to taste, smell and feel. We agree!
All municipal water systems must comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to protect the public health. That’s because at high levels certain contaminants in drinking water may cause cancer or other serious health effects. A 2021 Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) report on water quality, however, found there are NO health-related contaminants of concern in the Barrington area.
Aesthetic contaminants present in the area include iron, hardness, and chloride. The 2021 BACOG report found high levels of naturally occurring iron and hardness, which may impact taste, color, or staining, but the report emphasized they have no impact on human health.
Barrington Tests and Treats Our Water
When we turn on the faucet, we expect good, clean water. The Village monitors the water supply every day to make sure it complies with the SDWA and is safe to drink.
Barrington’s groundwater is pumped from four wells into tanks, and from there it is sampled, treated, and improved to make it perfectly drinkable. It is disinfected, and a small amount of fluoride is added for tooth health. The water is sent through another process that removes 80-85% of the natural iron from the finished water. Home water softening can eliminate more iron and hardness.
What’s at Risk, and What You Can Do
While located in the shallow aquifer system, Barrington’s wells are relatively deep – at 305, 210, 153 and 148 feet below ground. While it is possible for surface contaminants to travel down to groundwater, there is currently no evidence that this is occurring in the Barrington area – except for chloride.
Including chloride, there are three types of surface-level contaminants that could possibly enter our groundwater which are entirely human-introduced and preventable:
Salting & Chloride. Over the past 50 <?> years, chloride levels increased substantially into water runoff everywhere that development occurred, largely due to heavy use of salt on roads for snow/ice removal. Chloride levels increased significantly in rivers and lakes, but also somewhat in groundwater. Good news: The BACOG 2021 report showed that 93 percent of groundwater chloride levels were not only below, but well below, the federal standard. The Village and other BACOG communities now use less salt and safer products, which is making a difference. Still, residents and businesses are encouraged to use the minimum amount of salt possible on pavements at home and work.
Pharmaceuticals. We used to hear “flush unused medications down the toilet,” but no longer! More pharmaceuticals are getting into surface water (lakes, rivers), harming fish and aquatic systems. But it is possible for this emerging contaminant to also enter groundwater, and so residents are encouraged to take unused medications to the Village drop-off kiosk to keep drugs out of drinking water.
Fertilizers & Pesticides. The phosphorus, nitrogen and chemicals in products used for lawns and agriculture increasingly are finding their way into surface and groundwater. Elevated contaminant levels have not been found in Barrington area groundwater, but residents can help prevent a future problem by carefully following fertilizer and pesticide application instructions and limiting amounts used on home landscapes and gardens.
The Village actively works to maintain high-quality drinking water, through testing and treatment and preventing pollution. The benefits of our good groundwater make it a bargain, especially when compared to other water sources with the same contamination issues but a much higher price tag. Let’s work together to keep it that way.
Iron Removal the Village Water Treatment Plant
ARTICLE 1: Barrington's Water Supply: Is It Finite or Infinite?
The Hydrologic Cycle