Lead and Copper Rule
With the recent water situation in Flint, Michigan, there is significant concern about the presence of lead in drinking water. Lead released into the environment makes its way into the air, soils, and water. Lead can remain in the environment indefinitely. Children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to the health effects of lead poisoning.
Lead can occur in tap water, and when detected, it usually comes from older home plumbing or lead service pipes. Generally, high levels of lead in drinking water are caused by two factors, both of which must be present. The first is the presence of lead pipes as mentioned above. Unlike Flint, lead service pipes are rare in Annapolis. The second factor is the corrosivity of the drinking water. When the City of Flint changed their drinking water source, they did not adequately adjust their water treatment to ensure that the water wasn’t corrosive.
Corrosive water encourages the dissolving of lead in the pipes, leading to high concentrations of lead in the water. The City’s water treatment plant has a proactive corrosion control program to minimize lead leaching from plumbing materials. Every 3 years, the City of Annapolis takes water samples from 30 representative homes in the City. The sampling and testing is done in accordance with the requirements of EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule. The test results are used to determine if the corrosion control program is working. The test results have consistently shown that the corrosion control program keeps lead levels to a minimum.
For 2017, our most recent Lead and Copper Rule sampling and testing, lead was not detected in any of the samples. Monthly sampling and testing is also performed in the distribution system to determine if adjustments are required at the water treatment plant to prevent the water from being corrosive.
The City of Annapolis is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in residential plumbing systems. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain, repair and replace the water service lines from the water meter to the home. Homeowners can minimize lead exposure when water has been sitting for several hours in the home’s pipes by flushing the system. Residents can flush the system by letting water run for at least 30 seconds before using water for drinking or cooking.
Contact the EPA
Anyone concerned about lead exposure in drinking water, may wish to have the system tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps to minimize exposure is available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791, or online.