Facts You Should Know About Lead in Your Drinking Water
Facts You Should Know About Lead in Your Drinking Water
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Two Rivers Water & Light are concerned about lead in your drinking water. Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes in the community have had lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mg/L). Under Federal law we were required to have a program in place to minimize lead in your drinking water by January 1, 1995. Our corrosion control plans were approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and our corrosion control treatment system was placed into operation in late March of 1996.
Since our corrosion control treatment system began operation, we have completed four rounds (1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999) of drinking water sample collection and testing for lead. Because each of these testing rounds were found to be in compliance with the lead standards, we were not required to conduct another round of testing until 2002. For reasons we do not yet understand, our 2002 round of testing found that since 23% of the samples had lead concentrations of 15 parts per billion or more (two had 15 parts, two had 17 parts, one had 26 parts, one had 49 parts and one had 60 parts), we were not in compliance with the lead standard. Accordingly, we have increased the feed rate of our corrosion control treatment system and will be monitoring the results closely until we are once again in compliance with the lead standard. We are also working to determine what caused of our exceeding of the lead standard.
We are also required to replace each lead service line that we control if the line contributes lead concentrations of 15 ppb or more after we have completed the comprehensive treatment program. If you have any questions about how we are carrying out the requirements of the lead regulation, please give us a call at 793-5550. This brochure explains the simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by reducing your exposure to lead in drinking water.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF LEAD
Lead can pose a significant risk to your health if too much of it enters your body. Lead builds up in the body over many years and can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells and kidneys. The greatest risk is to young children and pregnant women. Amounts of lead that won't hurt adults can cause delays in normal physical and mental development in babies and young children, and slight deficits in attention span, hearing, and learning abilities. Lead exposure may also cause slight increases in the blood pressure of some adults.
LEAD IN DRINKING WATER
Lead in your drinking water may come from materials commonly used in plumbing and water distribution systems, such as service lines, pipes, brass and bronze fixtures or solders and fluxes. Corrosive water may remove lead from these materials, causing lead to enter your drinking water.
Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect your house to the water main. In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2% lead, and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials to 8.0%. Wisconsin banned the use of lead solder in September of 1984.
When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water. This means the first water drawn from the tap in the morning, or later in the afternoon after returning from work or school, can contain fairly high levels of lead.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE IN THE HOME TO REDUCE EXPOSURE TO LEAD IN DRINKING WATER
Despite our best efforts mentioned earlier to control water corrosivity and remove lead from the water supply, lead levels in some homes or buildings can be high. To find out whether you need to take action in your own home, have your drinking water tested to determine if it contains excessive concentrations of lead. Testing the water is essential because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. Some local laboratories that can provide this service are listed at the end of this booklet. For more information on having your water tested, please call 793- 5550.
If a water test indicates that the drinking water drawn from a tap in your home contains lead at or above 15 ppb, then you should take the following precautions:
The steps described above will reduce the lead concentrations in your drinking water. However, if a water test indicates that the drinking water coming from your tap contains lead concentrations in excess of 15 ppb after flushing, or after we have completed our actions to minimize lead levels, then you may want to take the following additional measures:
You can consult a variety of sources for additional information. Your family doctor or pediatrician can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead. State and local government agencies that can be contacted include:
State approved laboratories in your area that you can call to have your water tested for lead:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency & Two Rivers Water & Light