The Federal EPA has issued an update to the Lead and Copper Rule with a requirement for all public water utilities to submit a Lead Service Line (LSL) Inventory. This requirement brings forth an era of exciting possibilities for communities to safeguard the health and safety of their water supply!
The EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule was introduced in 1991 to address health risks posed by plumbing supplies containing lead and copper. The most recent revision requires public water systems to establish an LSL Inventory, enabling identification of customer service lines and a plan for fixing any issues. The revised LCR also requires tap sampling, better communication with customers and schools, and stricter requirements for replacing lead service lines.
This innovative approach ensures that communities can swiftly address potential hazards, prevent public health concerns, and establish a sustainable and reliable water infrastructure for many years to come.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is in the process of implementing the requirement for water line inventories across the state of Indiana.
Conducting these inventories allows us to identify areas where lead service lines may be present and to develop a well-informed plan to address them.
Is my drinking water safe?
Yes, the drinking water produced by your water utility is safe!
The drinking water that comes from our treatment plant is free from lead. However, residences and establishments constructed before 1987 might have lead service lines or plumbing.
It is important to know that most homes with lead service lines DO NOT exhibit elevated levels in their tap water!
And while we take steps during the water treatment process to ensure finished drinking water has the proper pH, or acidity, to protect against lead leaching out of customer-owned lead service lines and plumbing, there could be occasional instances of elevated lead levels in specific collected samples of tap water. In other words, the safest way to ensure that lead has no potential way to enter the water system is to identify and remove these lines.
What is the purpose of an LSL Inventory?
LSL inventories provide municipalities with the information needed to plan for targeted interventions & reduce potential contamination risks.
Since its implementation, the Lead and Copper Rule has resulted in a decrease of over 90% in action level exceedances of lead in drinking water! This is great news, but we know that the only guaranteed way to completely control lead exposure in drinking water is to remove the lead from the system altogether. The inventories are intended to proactively identify and assess the presence of lead and copper in water service lines between the water main and the customer’s home, allowing us to further protect our community. The best part… the federal government has allocated $15 billion to the drinking water State Revolving Fund (SRF) for Lead Service Line Replacement work if it is deemed necessary!
What if I find lead in my service line?
Regardless of your water line material, submitting your water service line inventory survey will help us better assess our community’s needs!
Service lines are the water lines that run from the utility’s water main to the customer’s home. It was common for homes built prior to 1950 to have lead lines and plumbing and even some homes built before 1986 could have lead solder in joints of copper pipe. Finding lead service lines IS NOT the same as having lead in your water! Lead found in tap water usually comes from the corrosion of lead pipe, whether in the service lines or in-home plumbing, or solder that connects the pipe. Even though many lead service lines do not exhibit elevated levels in the tap water, the only guaranteed way to ensure control of lead exposure in drinking water is to remove all lead from the system. If you believe you have a lead service line, you can get your water tested and use a water filter certified to remove lead until plans for the line to be replaced can be made.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SERVICE LINE IS LEAD?
Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft. You can identify them easily by carefully scratching them with a key. If the pipe is made of lead, the area you’ve scratched will turn a bright silver color.
DO NOT use a knife or other sharp instrument and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe!
Note: Galvanized piping can also be a dull gray color. A strong magnet will typically cling to galvanized pipes but will not cling to lead pipes.
Lead service lines can be connected to the residential plumbing using solder and have a characteristic solder “bulb” at the end, a compression fitting, or another connector made of galvanized iron or brass/bronze.
Lead enters drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual water quality report called a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) for their customers by July 1 of each year and alert you if there is a problem with your drinking water. If your water comes from a well or private water supply, you can check with your health department or with nearby water utilities that use groundwater for information on contaminants in your area.