Public Works Department - Water and Sewer Division
In order to reduce water and sewer inconveniences to the community, the Water and Sewer Division's daily operations include the maintenance and repair of water mains, household service lines from the water main to the B-Box, fire hydrants, water distribution valves, street drainage structures, and sewer and flood control appurtenances. Division personnel also conduct utility locates for outside contractors and other utilities, and offer technical assistance to homeowners experiencing problems with their household service lines.
Key tasks that confront Water and Sewer personnel are mostly related to infrastructure maintenance and the dissemination of information. The division also continues to replace antiquated, erroneous and malfunctioning water meters. A comprehensive off-hour leak study is conducted annually to provide feedback as to the soundness of the water infrastructure system.
Skokie Water Quality Safety Information
The serious water quality issues affecting the public water supply in Flint, Michigan, have heightened concerns about the safety of public water supplies throughout the country. The Village of Skokie would like to remind and assure Skokie residents that the drinking water supplied to residents and businesses in the community is safe and rigorously tested on an ongoing basis. Skokie’s water supply meets all Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards, and has consistently met these standards for many years. To view Skokie’s current Consumer Confidence Report on water quality, visit www.skokie.org. An updated annual report will be published in the June/July 2016 edition of NewSkokie.
The issue of lead in water supplies is always of concern, especially for pregnant women and children. Skokie’s water is tested for lead according to federal standards, and during the last testing cycle, Skokie’s results were below the laboratory’s detection limit of no more than five parts per billion. Lead in water does not come from water sources or water mains, but instead, is introduced into the water supply through household plumbing fixtures or through the service line that connects individual homes or businesses to the main. To protect Skokie’s water supply from potential lead contamination, orthophosphate is added to Skokie’s water supply to form a protective coating inside of water lines and plumbing fixtures to reduce the possible leaching of lead into the water.
Information on lead in drinking water, and steps that can be taken to minimize lead exposure is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800/426-4791 or at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.
Residents concerned about lead in the water may wish to have their water privately tested. While the Village of Skokie does not endorse or recommend any particular testing labs, the following are available locally:
- Suburban Laboratories, Inc.
For residential home water testing visit drinkingwaterlabs.com
- Bain Environnemental
- Severn Trent Laboratories (TestAmerica Chicago)
Since 1944 the Village of Skokie has purchased water from the City of Evanston. In response to a requirement by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the City of Evanston has provided the Village with the data for the Village of Skokie's Consumer Confidence Report on drinking water quality. The Report concludes that Skokie's water supplies are in compliance with all USEPA requirements. In addition to the distribution of this information, several complementary water-related articles were compiled by the Village for informational purposes:
2015 Water Quality Report (current)
Sewer Lateral Program
The Department of Public Works reminds homeowners that the maintenance and repair of the sewer line that connects their home to the public sewer system is the responsibility of the property owner. This private line, referred to as the sewer lateral, can become clogged, cracked, and ultimately fail if not properly maintained, and repairs can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Homeowners are encouraged to have a licensed plumbing contractor regularly inspect the sewer lateral for signs of deterioration.
When unexpected failures occur, they can be very disruptive and costly to repair. The most common failures that occur include:
- Open joints that allow water infiltration into surrounding soil
- Connection failures at the main sewer line (typically located in the parkway or under the street)
- Roots infiltrating cracks in the sewer lateral, leading to blockage
- Sewer lateral improperly pitched to allow water to drain
- Collapse of sewer pipe or broken sewer tile
In the event of a blocked or deteriorating sewer lateral, homeowners may experience water backing up into toilets or through floor drains.
A common cause of sewer lateral blockage is tree roots that have grown through cracks in the sewer line and can prevent water from flowing through. Roots from trees and large shrubs seek moisture wherever it is available, and can find their way into your sewer line. A plumbing contractor can remove the roots from the line, which is a maintenance task that may need to be repeated every year or two as the roots grow back into the line. Please note that tree roots cannot penetrate a sewer pipe that is in good condition, so root infiltration is a sign that the lateral is partially deteriorating.
In the event of a sewer back-up, homeowners may contact the Department of Public Works to have the main sewer line inspected in the street, and repaired if a blockage is found in the Village’s sewer. If no blockage is found in the Village’s sewer, a licensed plumbing contractor should be contacted by the homeowner to inspect the private sewer lateral and determine the cause of the blockage.
The Skokie Public Works Department can provide a list of contractors who have done work in Skokie, though the department cannot recommend any specific company. In some circumstances, property owners who live adjacent to major roadways with unusually deep main sewers may be eligible for limited financial assistance from the Village to offset a portion of their repair costs.
Homeowners who have questions about the proper maintenance of their sewer lateral can call the Water and Sewer Division at (847) 933-8427 or reference additional information online at www.skokie.org.
Financial Assistance to Homeowners Abutting
In recognition of the uniquely higher costs borne by homeowners who live along significant state, county or Village roadways with deeper sewers, a sewer assistance program is in place to help homeowners who meet each of the following criteria:
- The property’s sewer service is connected to a main that is in the right of way of a Regional Arterial, Village Arterial, or Collector street, as depicted in the graph at right, and whose width is 42 feet or greater; and
- The sewer failure has created an apparent and hazardous condition in the public way; and
- The invert depth of the main sewer adjacent to the point of connection with the lateral equals or exceeds twelve (12) feet in depth; and
- The proposed cost to effectuate the repair exceeds $7,500, which represents the typical cost of a sewer repair in Skokie for any property owner; and
- The property dwelling is a single family home.
If a homeowner meets each of these criteria, the homeowner would then be eligible to receive financial assistance from the Village to offset the portion of the repair cost which exceeds $7,500.
Private Water and Sewer Warranty Programs
Homeowners insurance policies typically do not cover repairs to private water and sewer lines since the cost is generally considered a routine part of home maintenance, similar to roof or driveway maintenance. While all insurance policies are different, you would have to check with your homeowner’s insurance provider to learn if any coverage is available for private sewer laterals.
Several companies have been marketing warranty programs locally that offer to pay the cost of repairing or replacing failed sewer laterals. Given the potentially high cost of repair and seemingly low cost of the warranty programs, the coverage can appear to be a desirable investment. However, homeowners considering these programs are advised to carefully consider the terms and conditions of such warranty agreements, particularly the defined exclusions to covered repairs.
Questions to consider:
- Will the warranty cover repairs if the defect is in the public right-of-way or under the street?
- Will the warranty cover costs of restoring sidewalks, landscaping, or street section if excavation is needed to complete the repair?
- Will the warranty cover repairs for a partially blocked, but functioning, sewer lateral? Or is a complete failure of the line required for coverage under the warranty?
- Will the warranty cover rodding out a partially blocked sewer lateral?
- What, if any, pre-existing conditions would prevent the company from paying for lateral repairs?
- Who selects the contractor that would perform the warranty work, and are they qualified?
While such warranties are legitimate financial products, the pricing and contractual terms are established by the companies. Acceptance of these terms and payment plans is a matter of consumer choice and individual estimation of value to the homeowner.
Every day, the Village of Skokie proudly supplies an average of 8.5 million gallons of water to its citizens; water that exceeds the minimum quality requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Before the water is pumped to your home or business, it has gone through careful treatment and numerous tests to ensure its quality. Congress established the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1974 to protect human health from contaminants in drinking water and to prevent contamination of existing groundwater supplies. This act and its amendments (1986 and 1996) require many actions to protect drinking water and its sources. One of these actions is the installation and maintenance of an approved backflow prevention assembly at the water service connection whenever a potential hazard is determined to exist in a customer’s system. Without proper protection devices, cross connections can occur. The following are frequently asked questions regarding the Village of Skokie’s program to prevent backflow contamination of the water supply.
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions on Backflow prevention, please click here.
Lawn Sprinkling Restrictions
Lawn sprinkling or irrigation, including but not limited to the use of automatic or oscillating sprinklers, is prohibited from May 15 through September 15 inclusive, from the hours of 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Water System Improvements
Construction of new water main involves the following: A 5 foot deep trench is excavated, the new water main pipe is installed (including fire hydrants and valves) and covered with granular backfill material. The main is then pressure tested to insure that there are no leaks and chlorinated to insure no bacteria exists that will infect the water supply. Next, individual home service connections are transferred to the new water main pipe. There will be a disruption of water service for each of the connections (2 hrs) and when the new main is connected to the existing main (4 hrs). Notification will be made for all water service shutdowns. All areas disturbed by the water main installation are then restored to their original condition.
Sewer System Improvements
The Village has contractually televised its sewer infrastructure and has comprehensive video data that has been prioritized for improvement by an independent engineering consultant firm. As part of this assessment, the consultant substantiated sewer condition from worst to best and recommended a rehabilitation course that will be followed for the next twenty years. The Village is currently following a master plan to rehabilitate sewers that are rated to be in the worst condition.
If you have the problem of tree and shrub roots growing in your sewers, please click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.