What We Do

Cleveland Water is successful at reducing your potential for exposure to lead from water. Learn what we’ve been doing for more than 20 years to keep your water safe.



  • Lead Test Results
  • System-wide Sampling
  • Volunteer Your Home

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  • Orthophosphate Addition
  • pH Control

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  • Replace Lead Lines
  • Clean Cut
  • Dielectric Couplings

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  • Lead Awareness Campaign
  • Publications
  • Partners in Lead Prevention

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Compliance Monitoring – Cleveland Water has been monitoring for lead at our customer’s taps since 1992. In 1997, we implemented treatment techniques, adding orthophosphate and controlling pH, to help reduce your potential exposure to lead from water. Our system-wide treatment techniques are some of the best in the country. In our most recent Lead Compliance Monitoring test, all results were below 3.3 parts per billion (ppb) and 90% were below 1.8 ppb. To put that in perspective, 1 ppb is like a blade of grass on a football field.


System-Wide Sampling at Tier 1 Sites – The water samples for our Lead and Copper Compliance Monitoring tests are taken from home’s throughout Cleveland Water’s 640-square mile service area that are known to have lead and meet the federal law requirements for Tier 1 Sites. Tier 1 Sampling Sites are defined in law as single family homes that contain at least one of the following:

  • Copper pipes with high lead solder installed between 1982 and 1989
  • Lead plumbing pipes
  • City-owned and/or customer owned lead service line

Cleveland Water is required by the federal law to continue collecting samples from as many of the original 1992 Tier 1 sampling sites as possible in perpetuity (i.e. as long as the homes still qualify as a Tier 1 site).


Volunteer Your Home – To assure our customers that our system-wide treatment techniques to control corrosion are as effective as test results show, Cleveland Water is looking to expand the number of Tier 1 sampling sites, especially in areas that have higher numbers of city-owned lead service lines. If your home meets the Tier 1 requirements you can volunteer your home to be added to our list of Lead and Copper Compliance Monitoring water sample sites. To have your home added, call 216-664-2882, or download and complete the volunteer form and return it to Cleveland Water.

  • Email completed forms to: website_inquiries@clevelandwater.com
  • Mail completed forms to: Cleveland Water, attn: Lead and Copper Compliance Monitoring, 1201 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland OH 44114

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Orthophosphate Addition

  • Cleveland Water adds orthophosphate at the end of the drinking water treatment process. Orthophosphate inhibits the water from coming into contact with metal pipes.
  • Orthophosphate forms a protective coating inside water pipes, service lines and your home’s plumbing. This prevents water from coming in contact with the pipe material, reducing the likelihood of lead being dissolved into the water supply.
  • The U.S. EPA considers orthophosphate the best treatment technique for preventing lead from leaching into water.
  • The low-levels of orthophosphate added to the water are about 250 times lower than what is naturally found in a glass of milk and up to 5,000 times lower than what is found in glass of pop.
  • If the orthophosphate coating inside a lead service line or lead plumbing is disturbed and flakes off, our water’s continuous orthophosphate feed will reform the scale inside the service line or plumbing. Studies show orthophosphate scale will from in three months or less.

pH Control

  • Cleveland Water controls the pH of finished water to help control corrosion. Our finished water’s pH is above 7 at all times.
  • pH is an indicator of the acid or alkaline condition of water. The pH scale ranges from 0-14; 7 indicates the neutral point. Water that has a pH below 7 is more acidic and more likely to corrode metal.
  • The pH of Lake Erie water naturally varies between 7.5 and 8.4 which means water coming into our treatment plants is naturally slightly alkaline. Our source water is at the higher end of the range during summer and more toward 7.5 during winter.
  • If we need to, we can adjust the pH of the water to reduce corrosiveness and ensure water we deliver to customers is within the range that is optimal for preventing lead from leaching into water and optimal for our orthophosphate treatment to work.
  • The pH of water leaving our treatment plants is always above 7 and usually between 7.3 and 7.6.

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Cleveland Water is lead free when it leaves our treatment plants. Our water mains are not made from lead; however some customers’ service lines are lead. We implement best practices while maintaining our distribution system in our efforts to continually remove lead and reduce the chance of exposure.

Replace Lead Service Lines

  • In 2020, Cleveland Water launched our Childcare Lead Service Line Removal Program, which replaces lead service lines for FREE at state-licensed providers in our direct service area. Cleveland Water has been successful in obtaining $2.5 million in state and federal dollars to help fund this program. Childcares who want to know more should email childcare@clevelandwater.com.
  • We replace all city-owned service lines made from lead during water main replacement projects and emergency repairs.
  • We never repair leaking city-owned lead service lines (LSLs), we only replace them.
  • We offer to replace customer-owned LSLs when the line is disturbed.
  • When a customer-owned LSL has been disturbed and cannot be removed at the same time the city-owned LSL is replaced, Cleveland Water will offer customers in the project area a water pitcher and three months of filters certified to remove lead.


Clean Cut - Cleveland Water encourages all customers to replace customer-owned lead service lines whenever the city is replacing our portion of a lead service line. However, when this does not occur and a customer-owned lead service line is left behind, we clean-cut the customer-owned lead service line to reduce the chances of lead particulate from entering their service line. (insert image)

Dielectric Couplings – When two different types of metal are joined together, the potential of material corrosion increases. To help reduce the risk of lead corrosion into water when a customer-owned lead service line is left behind, Cleveland Water uses dielectric couplings. These plastic couplings are an insulating material and very poor conductor of currents, therefore reduce the potential of corrosion.

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In October 2018, Cleveland Water launched a new Lead Awareness Campaign to help customers understand their risk of exposure to lead through drinking water and take action to reduce potential risks.

Presentations - If you would like a Cleveland Water staff member to present on the topic of lead in water to your group please contact the Cleveland Water Lead Inquiry Line at 216.664.2882.

Identify Lead – Use the “Check. Test. Date.” method for identifying lead in your home’s service line and plumbing system. If there is no lead in their home’s plumbing system, there is no risk of lead exposure through the water at their tap.

Healthy Water Habits– Use the “Clean. Flush. Consume Cold.” method to understand actions you can take in your home to further reduce the risk of lead exposure through water.

Publications - Cleveland Water publications related to lead are listed below.

Flyers and Brochures


Water Sampling Information






Door Notices

  • Two-tone Purple – When used: 1.) No lead in customer’s service line and all lead in service lines in project area has been removed AND 2.) All visible service line lead has been removed from customer’s service line and project area.
  • Yellow-Purple – When used: 1.) No lead in customer’s service line but one customer in project area may still have a lead service line AND 2.) All visible service line lead has been removed from customer’s service line but one customer in project area may still have a lead service line.
  • Orange-Purple – When used: All lead has been removed from the city-owned portion of the service line; however customer-owned service line is still lead.


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Keeping Lead out of Water is a Shared Responsibility.


Cleveland Water is lead free when it leaves our water treatment plants and travels through our water mains. However, some homes and buildings served by Cleveland Water have lead in their plumbing system. This includes service lines, lead pipes within the home, high lead solder used to join copper pipes, and older faucets, fittings and fixtures.

For more information about lead in drinking water, please contact our Lead Inquiry Line at 216-664-2882, or visit www.drinktap.org or the USEPA’s website www.epa.gov/lead, or call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD.