A water distribution report released by the Village of Western Springs on June 1 shows that the hardness level of Western Springs public water was tested at a range of 218-649 mg/L in May, up from 118-164 mg/L in September of 2011.
The U.S. Geological Survey defines “hard water” as between 121 and 180 mg/L, with anything over 180 defined as “very hard.” Numbers from September through May show a gradual increase in hardness.
However, fluoride levels in the water (tested every three months) have dropped to between 1.23 and 1.58 mg/L in May, down from a high of 2.13 mg/L in November—although these numbers are still double the 0.7 mg/L recommended by the Center of Disease Control, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and American Dental Association.
Village Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator said that the fluctuating numbers were due to the changing degree to which the Village is drawing from its three wells—numbers 1, 3 and 4—for the period during which the plant is unable to soften its water due to reconstruction.
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Well No. 4 has the least hard water, but the highest in fluoride. Well No. 1 is the opposite: high in mineral content, low in fluoride. Well No. 3 is between the other two on both—but must be used sparingly because it has a high radium content.
In fall of 2012, the Village was only using Well No. 4, but began tempering it with some water from Well No. 3 to alleviate concerns about fluorosis and fluoride, which increased the hardness slightly through January and February.
The massive increase in hardness in May (and decrease in fluoride,) however, is due to the necessity of bringing Well No. 1 online as well to maintain water pressure and satisfy the Village’s water demand through the dryness and heat.
The Village has posted several tips for dealing with hard water on their official website, saying that “while the effects of the hard water during the water plant rehabilitation should not have a substantial impact on the plumbing or appliances, there are some things the homeowner can do to make it more tolerable.”
Advice includes using Lemi Shine and citric acid, along with flushing your water heater and using bottle water for small appliances—or just buying a water-softening system.