Lead and your drinking water

Avon Lake Regional Water keeps your water lead free by adding lime during our water filtration process. Water sources themselves do not contain significant amounts of lead. Lead levels in drinking water exist primarily because of the pipes that bring clean water into homes. In Avon Lake, these pipes are often the service lines that bring water from water mains under your street or yard into your water meter or home, but there may be some Avon Lake homes with lead in their indoor plumbing/fixtures, as well.


In Avon Lake, some lead service lines have been found between the water main and the external shut off (we call it the corporation stop) or the water meter. For a limited number of homes, lead service lines have been found going all the way to the house. (Image courtesy Massachusetts Water Resource Authority)

As a service to our customers, we remove and replace any lead service lines on our customers’ properties as we find them.

Who is most at risk?

When talking about drinking water, homes most at risk for lead in pipes/drinking water are those built before the 1940s. Some of these homes were built with lead service lines or lead pipes as plumbing. At a lower risk are most houses built from 1940 until about 1990. These used lead solder with copper piping as plumbing. With the least risk are homes built after 1990, and possibly as early as 1987. They were built using either lower-lead/lead-free solder or plastic pipes.

If lead is ingested, it can affect people of any age, but young children are most at risk. High levels of lead in tap water can cause health effects if the lead in the water enters the bloodstream and causes an elevated blood lead level. Most studies show that exposure to lead-contaminated water alone would not be likely to elevate blood lead levels in most adults, even exposure to water with a lead content close to the EPA action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Risk will vary, however, depending on the individual, the circumstances, and the amount of water consumed. For example, infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size. (cdc.gov)

Lead poisoning can adversely affect nearly every system of the body, but particularly the central nervous system, especially for unborn and young children whose bodies are just beginning to develop and grow. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. However, lead poisoning is easily diagnosed with simple testing, and in most cases, it can be treated. (epa.gov)

How we guard against lead

To reduce lead from leaching out of any lead pipes or fixtures, we (and other water utilities) add a corrosion inhibitor during the treatment process. We use lime. Some water utilities use phosphates. Each water utility selects a corrosion inhibitor based on the source water and other factors, but the result is the same–the chemical combines with the water to leave a protective layer on the inside of the pipes. As a result, neither we, nor any of the utilities to whom we provide water, have corrosion/lead concerns. Recently, a problem in Flint, Michigan arose when they changed their city’s water provider and source and failed to add these anti-corrosion chemicals to their new water. This water quickly corroded the existing lead service lines and pipes, which began leaching lead into the water.

Lead service lines, arrayed from most corroded to pristine. (craftsmanpipelining.com)

Avon Lake Regional Water tests our water regularly in accordance with EPA standards and reports our water’s content to federal and state regulators, as well as our customers via our annual water quality report.

If you are ever in an older home or are otherwise concerned about lead, let the water run until it’s cold before using it, and only use cold water for cooking or drinking (EPA).

Additional resources

Lead and water (Centers for Disease Control)
Sebring, Ohio water crisis (Toledo Blade, 1/31/2016)
Elyria water treatment clears lead concerns (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, 2/1/2016)
Protect Your Family: Lead (EPA)
Flint Water Crisis: A Timeline (MSNBC, 1/27/2016)
Current EPA regulations for water utilities regarding lead and copper in drinking water (EPA.gov)



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