It is recommended that private well owners test their well for bacteria and nitrates on a yearly basis. Residents whose water is provided by a community source, such as a subdivision, or municipal well supplier (Barrington and Tower Lakes) do not need to test individually since the supplier is required to perform tests regularly.

BACOG facilitates Bacteria and Nitrates testing for residents in the Barrington Area at reduced costs:



Bacteria and Nitrates testing services are held at convenient, centrally located locations in the BACOG region each spring. 

After having to postpone the 2020 Private Well Water Testing and Drug Take Back event due to the pandemic, BACOG adjusted and took a new approach to the event. The new format allowed residents of BACOG member communities to drop off water samples and excess pharmaceuticals from the comfort of their cars and receive educational materials to read on their own schedule. Over 200 water samples from BACOG area homes and over 31 pounds of pharmaceuticals were collected on May 25, 2021. Water testing found no evidence of e.coli or elevated nitrate levels in any samples and less than 6% of the samples returned positive results for coliform bacteria.

Many thanks to the BACOG member staff and communities, the BACOG Water Resources Committee, the Lake County Health Department, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for making this event a success. We are incredibly grateful for these continuing partnerships that make events like this possible and successful. Thank you to all the residents who took steps to get their private well water tested this year.

Residents have the option to test their water for bacteria and nitrates through the following public health departments:

Cook County Public Health (847) 818-2841 (bacteria testing only)
To obtain a water testing kit from the Cook County Public Health Department,  contact their office in Rolling Meadows to schedule an appointment for pick up.  Residents will be responsible for mailing the test kit and paperwork to the IDPH lab in Chicago. 

Lake County Health Department: (847) 377-8020 (bacteria and nitrates testing)
To obtain a water testing kit from the Lake County Health Department, stop by their office in Libertyville or pick one up at one of the following participating locations below.  Residents will be responsible for delivering the test kit to their lab in Libertyville.

    • Village of Barrington Hills (847) 551-3000
    • Village of Deer Park (847) 726-1648
    • Village of Lake Barrington (847) 681-6010


Residents rely on the water that comes into their home every day, and it is up to each private well owner to maintain its quality and safety.  Additional testing may identify contaminants in the natural well water before it is treated by a water softener or reverse osmosis (RO) system. Testing is recommended every 5 years or with a transfer of real estate.   

The Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) refers residents to the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) to test your natural water quality.  If a resident would like additional information about additional well water testing, contact the Illinois State Water Survey

Water Quality

Ever wondered what to do with unused and expired medications?  Don’t flush them! You could be harming your drinking water.

Recent testing has shown an increasing number of drinking water sources around the country contain pharmaceutical components. Currently the levels are not known to affect human health, but studies show that some aquatic species are negatively reacting to pharmaceuticals contaminating their water. The Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) advocates taking steps now to protect our groundwater from contamination before it becomes a health issue.

Don’t flush or toss!

Flushing old and unused medication creates an easy avenue for groundwater contamination. Septic tanks and wastewater treatment plants are unable to remove all pharmaceutical components during treatment. The water released from the treatment plant or your septic system still contains remnants of flushed medication. Through recharge, this water can make its way from the ground surface down to the groundwater, contaminating the water we pump into our homes for drinking. Putting your medicines in the trash is not a safe alternative. Landfills create a liquid composed of everything in the landfill, including pharmaceuticals. This liquid may be treated at a wastewater treatment plant but will still contain pharmaceuticals that can contaminate our water.

Where can I dispose of my pharmaceuticals?

Dispose of your pharmaceuticals at a reputable take back program. These facilities, in cooperation with the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, collect expired and unused medications. Residents of the BACOG region are fortunate to have collection facilities in and adjacent to their communities – take advantage of these sites, and protect our drinking water. If you have questions, contact the location you would like to visit.

Medication Drop Off Locations List

Medication Drop Off Locations Map

Water Softeners

Water Softeners Contribute to Salt and Chloride in Water Resources