Water FAQ

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How can I lower my water bill?

Where can I find my water meter and how can I use it to check for leaks?

What causes the tiny air bubbles in my water?

Whom do I contact if I am moving?

What is my drinking water quality?

What should I do if my basement backs up with sewage?

Whom do I contact to discuss billing problems or issues?

What are the limits on lawn irrigation?

Monitor Your Water Use and Start Saving


 1. How can I lower my water bill?

Review these useful tips for water conservation:

  1. Test for a leaking toilet by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If any color appears in the bowl after 30 minutes, your toilet is leaking. Leaking toilets can waste thousands of gallons of water a day. Flush as soon as the test is done, since food coloring may stain the tank.
  2. Use water conserving plumbing fixtures and water-flow constrictors on sinks and showers. Typically, bathroom facilities constitute nearly 75 percent of the water used in homes.
  3. Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. Be sure to properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  4. Take short showers instead of baths. A bath can use 30 to 50 gallons of water. A shower uses 5 gallons of water per minute, less if a flow restrictor is installed.
  5. Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run every time you want a glass of cool water. It takes longer to obtain cool water from your tap than it does to obtain hot water. Save time and money by storing drinking water in the refrigerator.
  6. Make the most out of the water you use. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden or doing housework.
  7. Avoid using a garbage disposal. Add your garbage to the trash instead of putting it down the garbage disposal. Additionally, organic material such as food scraps and yard waste can be disposed of through the food and yard waste service or Collective Resource. For further information, visit the Food Waste Do's and Don'ts page.
  8. Choose plants that are native to the area in which we live or plants that are drought resistant for landscaping and gardening. Group plants together based on similar watering needs.
  9. Water lawn and gardens during the coolest part of the day to minimize evaporation. The City of Evanston Ordinance restricts lawn watering between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from May 15 to September 15. Position sprinklers so that water lands on the lawn and shrubs, not on paved areas. Gardens are exempt from these limits. 
  10. Use a bucket of water and a spray head on the hose to wash your car. A running hose can waste hundreds of gallons of water in the short time it takes to wash a vehicle.


2. Where can I find my water meter and how can I use it to check for leaks?

You usually can find your water meter in the basement of your house, toward the front wall, either in the utility room or in the closet. If you have a hard time finding your water meter, please call the Meter Shop at 311 or 847-448-4311, they will be glad to give you the detailed location of your meter.

Your water meter can also be a useful tool in determining if you have a leak problem. On the meter register is a small red dial. This dial is a "leak detector" and will spin when small amounts of water pass through the meter. To most accurately determine whether water is leaking, be sure to turn off all water consumption devices, including humidifiers and other automatic water users. Then, go down and look at your water meter. Is the little red dial spinning? If so, you have a leak and that water is going somewhere! Toilets are the most common culprit for a leak. Try the dye test listed under water conservation tips to determine if that is your problem. If you are unable to locate your leak, call a plumber. It may save you money in the long run.

Report a broken water meter


3. What causes the tiny air bubbles in my water?

This condition occurs most often when water is very cold. Cold water can hold more dissolved air than warm water. Therefore, some of the air comes out of solution in the form of tiny air bubbles when the water warms up.


4. Whom do I contact if I am moving?

Contact Utilities Department, Meter Division. They will take care of ensuring a final meter reading is taken and guide you through the process.  Phone 311 or 847-448-4311 (outside Evanston).


5. What is my drinking water quality?

We are very fortunate on Lake Michigan to be blessed with an exceptional high quality source water. After treatment, the quality of Evanston's drinking water is far better than federal standards. See the Water Quality Report for the full details on the latest "detected" contaminants. The table depicts the few parameters that are tested for that are measurable, and even those are well below the known health risk factors.


6. What should I do if my basement backs up with sewage?

Evanston residents are encouraged to contact the Water & Sewer Division any time they experience a basement back-up before contacting a plumber. A Sewer Division employee will conduct an inspection to determine if the back-up is a result of a problem in the City's main line sewer (usually located in the center of the street) or in the private building sewer service line. If a blockage occurred in the City's main line sewer, the Sewer Division will correct the problem which should also relieve the basement back-up. However, if the City's main line sewer is properly functioning, the resident will be notified that the blockage is in the private building sewer service line. The Evanston City Code indicates that the property owner is responsible to maintain the private building sewer service line from it's juncture to the City's main line sewer to the building.

By contacting the Water & Sewer Division first, the resident will save the cost of hiring a plumber in the event that the blockage causing the basement back-up is in the City's main line sewer. Please contact the Evanston Water & Sewer Division any time you experience a basement backup; 7 days a week between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 311 or 847-448-4311. After hours and holidays , call the Water Division's emergency number at 847-475-6880.


7. Whom do I contact to discuss billing problems or issues?

Payment of water and sewer billings is handled by the City of Evanston Collector's office. The City Collector's office is located at 2100 Ridge Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201. The phone number is 311 or 847-448-4311.


8. What are the limits on lawn irrigation?

The Evanston City Code imposed the following limits on watering of lawns:

(A) During May 15 through September 15 of each year, lawn irrigation with water supplied from the City waterworks system is permitted for odd numbered addresses on odd numbered dates, and for even numbered addresses on even numbered dates. During May 15 through September 15, no lawn irrigation is permitted between the hours of ten o’clock (10:00) A.M. to four o’clock (4:00) P.M on any day of the week at any address in the City. Gardens are exempt from these limits. Lawn irrigation during September 16 through May 14 of each year is not subject to these limits.

(B) An exception to the above specified lawn irrigation limits applies for a period of ninety (90) consecutive days after new sod is laid or new lawn seed is sown. 

(C) Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of this section shall be fined as provided in section 7-12-17 of the Evanston City Code.

(D) In the event of an emergency water shortage the City Manager or his agent or designee shall have the power to temporarily ban all nonessential water use for as long as the emergency water shortage shall exist. (Ord. 23-O-16)


9. Monitor Your Water Use and Start Saving

The City of Evanston offers the free WaterSmart tool to help you track your home's water use and spending.

  • Ways to save. Get personalized, step-by-step actions.
  • How you compare. See how your water use compares to similar homes.
  • Alerts. Get notified about potential leaks.

Water Smart postcard

City of Evanston WaterSmart