What You Can Do About Lead Concerns

Posted Monday, May 02, 2016

The recent issues in Flint, Michigan and locally in Tacoma’s water system have sharpened the focus on lead in drinking water. Skagit PUD is not aware of any existing lead pipe in use within its water system. In the 1930s, copper was the most prevalent material used in our system when connecting the water main to customers’ service lines.

Skagit PUD’s water system fully complies with federal Lead and Copper Rule regulations. The federal Lead and Copper Rule, which was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and is implemented by the Washington State Department of Health, prescribes the minimum number of samples, how sample sites are selected, the process for collecting lead samples in customers’ homes, and what the levels must be below.

Skagit PUD currently collects a minimum of 30 samples every three years.The federally acceptable limit of lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion (ppb) in no more than 10% of collected samples. Tests conducted in 2015, met or exceeded strict water quality standards set by the EPA for drinking water.

Additionally, Skagit PUD practices corrosion control, which is the industry standard. Corrosion control is the addition of caustic soda to the water to raise the pH level. Raising the pH of the water makes it less corrosive on plumbing and reduces the amount of lead that can dissolve into the drinking water.

Typical sources of lead exposure in the home are not water, but dust, soil and some consumer products.

Up until 1986, lead was a constituent of the solder used to join household copper plumbing. It has also long been a part of brass fittings and household fixtures. If you have older plumbing in your home and are concerned about lead in your water, you can:

  • Run your cold water on high for two minutes before drinking or cooking. This is particularly important if you haven't used water in your home for 6 hours or more. Bathing or showering is not a concern, and a shower will effectively flush the service line.

  • Once the pipes have been cleared, run the water for 15 seconds before drinking or cooking. You don’t have to waste the water. You can use it for some other purpose, such as flushing a toilet, watering a garden or doing the dishes.

  • Test your own water samples. There is a state-certified lab in Burlington that accept samples from the general public and are certified to run drinking water samples for lead:

Edge Analytical Laboratories
1620 S Walnut St
Burlington, WA 98233
(800) 755-9295