Recently, risks associated with lead in drinking water have been featured in several local news stories. While some of these reports have responsibly presented the facts, others have taken a more sensational approach, even providing inaccurate and misleading information. As a result, we thought it was a good time to remind all of our customers that the water we deliver to your home is safe, and that it meets and exceeds all Federal and State standards.
We have taken several actions to help protect you from exposure to lead in drinking water.
Most importantly, we use a chemical called orthophosphate in our treatment process. Orthophosphate is an anti-corrosive that forms a thin barrier on the inside of pipes and plumbing fixtures. This thin barrier prevents lead from leaching into the drinking water.
We test at homes throughout our service area regularly to make sure we are in compliance with Federal and State lead regulations. These tests are conducted at Tier 1 sites – or homes we believe have lead cityside connections or ownerside connections – so that we increase the likelihood of finding lead. Additionally, samples are collected after sitting in pipes for more than six hours – also to increase the likelihood that we will find elevated lead levels.
These tests results are reported to the Ohio EPA and are also made available to you in our annual Water Quality Report. In our most recent report published earlier this year, our average result across our test sites was 1.9 parts per billion (think of this as a few drops in an Olympic-size swimming pool), well below the Action Level of 15 parts per billion (the equivalent of one ounce in an Olympic-size swimming pool). Since we started using orthophosphate in our treatment process about 20 years ago, we have seen a dramatic reduction - about 90% - in the amount of lead in our test results.
Tools and Information
We also recognize that after treatment, the best thing we can do is empower our customers with information. That is why, last month, we added a new online search tool to our website that allows customers to determine if their cityside connection is made of lead. Additionally, we provide tips on how to determine if plumbing in your home is made of lead or copper, and some simple things you can do to further reduce the risks associated with lead in drinking water.
If you’re concerned about your home or business and want to have your home or business tested, we recommend that you use an Ohio EPA certified laboratory (click here for a list). Do not use “off the shelf” kits that can be purchased at local hardware stores as these may not have been evaluated for reliability.
We know that lead in drinking water can be a scary subject, so we’re here to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to call our Lead Hotline at (216) 664-2882 and subscribe to our news blog, Straight From The Tap, where we’ll continue to post information on this and other important subjects.