Questions About Lead

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These questions and answers are in response to concerns raised by our March 2008 Newsletter regard lead detected in the water.

FAQ for lead in tap water

1. Is the entire USCDWUA water system contaminated with lead?

2. Are all taps on the system tested regularly for lead?

3. How many homes are sampled each year, and are they always the same ones?

4. What is it about the USCDWUA water that makes it eat plumbing?

5. How long before my plumbing is full of holes?

Will there be more questions answered?

(1) No, the entire USCDWUA system does not have lead in the water. This has been verified by regular testing of the water leaving the treatment plant. Lead has never been detected in these tests. Lead enters the water when it is dissolved from lead-alloy materials in meters and household plumbing. The most significant source would be lead solder historically used to connect copper piping. This has been banned since 1986. The other source is brass, which is an alloy of lead with copper or tin. Brass is used almost exclusively in the making of faucets, valves, pressure regulators, and other fixtures. Return

(2) Not all houses are tested regularly for lead. Our list of sampling sites was decided on the basis of a questionnaire sent to all users several years ago. Those sites with the highest known risk were chosen. Highest risk was assumed to be a home with copper plumbing connected with solder prior to 1986, meaning it probably had a high lead content. This method of choosing sampling sites is as prescribed by EPA and Colorado Department of Health instructions. Return

(3) Ten homes are sampled each year. They are always the same ones, because they have been identified as having the highest presumed risk. However, it is not always possible for a homeowner (or anyone else, except the original plumber) to know the intimate details of their plumbing system. It is therefore advisable for everyone to follow the guidelines of our March newsletter. Return

(4) Perhaps ďeat plumbingĒ is an extreme way to put it, but itís fundamentally accurate, because the water dissolves a tiny fraction of it. Thatís because the source of our water, for the most part, is surface runoff, that is, melting snow and rain. This water does not have time to dissolve minerals on its way to our treatment plant, and is therefore quite soft. Soft water, while ideal for washing, is more aggressive toward metals than hard water. Hard water tends to leave a film, which can be an obnoxious problem of its own, but it does protect metal surfaces from attack. Return

(5) We arenít smart enough to predict that. Return

Yes, as members ask questions we will update this web page with the answers.

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