The City of Evanston’s Water Quality Laboratory announced this week that they received a perfect score in a state audit of the facility for the fourth time in a row. The lab is audited every two years by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The audit consists of an onsite evaluation in which procedures, records and equipment are inspected. Over 200 different criteria must be met in order to be in perfect compliance with Zero Deviations. 

“This perfect score highlights the commitment of the City of Evanston and our staff to maintaining the highest level of quality, safe drinking water to our community and several other Illinois communities,” explained Evanston Utilities Department Director Dave Stoneback. “Evanston’s tap water continuously receives high marks for following federally and locally mandated water standards.”

The IDPH certifies labs for bacteriological parameters in the State of Illinois, while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency certifies laboratories for the analysis of chemical substances. In 2011, there were over 30 regulatory changes impacting policies, records and procedures. Because of these changes several laboratories which received zero deviations in the past, did not receive a perfect score this year.

The lab performs multiple and varied Microbiological tests and Quality Control (Q.C.) procedures and is certified to perform Total Coliform with Membrane Filtration, Fecal Coliform Verification and both of the lab’s scientists are certified to perform Heterotrophic Plate Count for Water (testing for general bacteria).

“Once again Eleanore Meade and her staff are to be commended on their dedication to excellence as was made evident by their Q.C. procedures, record maintenance and technical skills. The effort to generate quality data from this lab is apparent. Congratulations on receiving zero deviations,” the official IDPH audit reported.

The lab is staffed by full time Chemist Eleanore Meade and Microbiologist Alfredo Diaz-Mazarredo. In addition, water plant operators, working around the clock, are also certified to perform bacteriological analysis and are also trained to monitor turbidity levels (the level of suspended solids), chlorine levels and all chemical feed rates to insure the quality of the water 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Alfredo and I work very hard at doing our job to the best of our ability and we are happy to see our work validated with this perfect score from the Illinois Department of Public Health,” said Eleanore Meade.

The Evanston Water Treatment Plant is located on the shores of Lake Michigan and has the capacity to supply up to 108 million gallons per day. It serves over 350,000 residents in Evanston, Skokie and the Northwest Water Commission (Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine and Wheeling).

“Over 80 tests are conducted on water samples collected from the Evanston distribution system each month. Evanston also performs the bacteriological analysis of water samples collected from the Village of Skokie and submits the results to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for compliance with Safe Drinking Water Regulations,” explained Meade.

“As we near National Drinking Water Week, May 5-11, this is a great opportunity to remind residents that not only is our tap water better for you, it is better for the environment. Plastic water bottles produced for U.S. consumption take 1.5 million barrels of oil per year, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. That much energy could power 250,000 homes or fuel 100,000 cars for a year,” concluded Stoneback.