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Can you drink Chicago tap water?

Can you drink Chicago tap water?

Just like when it comes to pizza, Chicagoans are as proud of their tap water as New Yorkers. Chicago tap water is generally safe to drink and tastes great. Unfortunately lead is often found and even if it’s usually below regulated levels there is no safe level for children. Therefore it’s recommended to use an affordable faucet filter certified for lead removal such as TAPP.

Where does Chicago tap water come from?

The tap water in Chicago comes from Lake Michigan which is one of the largest lakes in the world. Water from Lake Michigan enters the intake crib at depths of 20 to 30 feet.

What is in Chicago tap water and who regulates it?

Both the EPA and the Chicago Department of Water Management stress that Chicago’s water is safe to drink. Most of the year the water tastes great but there may be some seasonalities. While harmless health-wise, algae, in the hotter months, can give the water an unpleasant “rotting moss” sort of flavor.

Despite EPAs and CDWMs assurances tests often find lead as well as pesticide and manufacturing residues in it. According to the Chicago Tribune, nine water systems in the Chicago region exceeded EPA standards for lead in 2016. Most of the lead comes from older house and street piping systems.

It was also recently confirmed that 1 out of 5 homes with water meters sampled had brain-damaging  levels of lead in their tap water.

EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe there is no safe level of lead exposure. Lead is harmful to health, especially for children. While paint, dust, and soil are the most common sources of lead, drinking water can contribute 40 to 60 percent of an infant’s lead exposure.

Many public water systems will test drinking water for residents upon request. Chicago residents can call 311 for information. You can also check the State of Illinois’ drinking water website for a list of laboratories certified to analyze for lead.
But the easiest way is to use a high quality faucet water filter such as TAPP certified for removal of lead, pesticides and another 80+ contaminant. This will give better tasting water and you can feel safe.

Drinking water in public places and restaurants

It’s generally safe to drink the tap water in public places in Chicago. Even better, it tastes great and it’s free. The only exception may be for small children so make sure the drinking water at school has been tested recently or that it’s filtered.

Use the MyTAPP app (iOS and Android) to find refill stations around you when on the go.

Bottled water

20% of Chicago’s population mainly drink bottled water. Consumption continuous to grow despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence that bottled water is healthier than tap water. Almost 50% of bottled water is simply filtered tap water anyway.
What we know is that plastic waste is bad for the environment and eventually ends up in our own tap water as microplastics. Chicago is notoriously bad at recycling. Chicagoans create nearly a million tons of waste a year, but only 10 percent of it gets recycled and kept out of landfills. And even when plastic bottles are recycled, they have a negative environmental impact from manufacturing, filling, to transportation.
In conclusion, avoid bottled water if possible. Use a refillable bottle instead when on the go and save money and the planet.

Using a filter like TAPP, you will never need to use any plastic linked with your water consumption. When it’s time to change the filter, dispose of its biodegradable refill cartridge with organic waste.


  • The tap water in Chicago is generally safe to drink and tastes good
  • Use an affordable water filter such as TAPP to be in the safe side with lead and other contaminants
  • It’s safe and healthy to drink tap water in public places. As children are more sensitive it may be good to check the schools tap water quality
  • Use a refillable bottle on the go and avoid bottled water whenever possible

Do you drink tap water in Chicago? We want your feedback and opinion. Agree or disagree? Tell us!

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5 thoughts on “Can you drink Chicago tap water?”

  1. I’m doing a school project on clean water access in Chicago. I’m wondering if you can give me more information on where our water comes from and how clean our water is. Thank you.

  2. There is no explanation on city, county or state websites of how to interpret Chicago Water Management home test results. I am unable to find any information in local media of how to read these.
    Why is that?.. Reading 1.0 1.3 1.0

    1. Good question. Probably because the home test kits are simply not good enough at testing water quality. They will tell you things like chlorine, pH, bacteria and possibly lead content but not in enough detail to tell you if the water is safe to drink. If you are concerned about your local tap water then we would recommend contacting a professional lab instead. Let us know if you need a contact?

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