Information on Lead

You may have questions about lead in drinking water as a result of the water quality crisis in Flint, Michigan. Although public officials continue to investigate what went wrong in Flint, several factors contributed to the problem:

Washington Water is compliant with health and safety codes mandating use of lead-free materials in water system replacements, repairs, and new installations. We have no known lead service lines in our systems. We test and treat (if necessary) water sources to ensure that the water delivered to customer meters meets water quality standards and is not corrosive toward plumbing materials.

The water we deliver to your home meets lead standards, but what about your home's plumbing? In Washington state, lead in drinking water comes primarily from materials and components used for in-home plumbing (for example, lead solder used to join copper plumbing, and brass and other lead-containing fixtures). Therefore, the Lead and Copper Rule is a critical part of our water quality monitoring program, and we follow it completely. This rule requires us to test water inside a representative number of homes that have plumbing most likely to contain lead and/or lead solder. This test, along with other water quality testing, tells us if the water is corrosive enough to cause lead from home plumbing to leach into the water. If the Action Level* is exceeded, either at a customer's home or systemwide, we work with the customer to investigate the issue. If the problem is systemwide, we will implement corrosion control treatment at the source before the lead levels create a health issue.

As the crisis in Flint has made clear, if present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and children. If your home's plumbing contains lead piping or pipe fittings, lead solder, or brass fixtures that may contain lead, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.

The only way to know the amount of lead in your household water is to have your water tested. Many certified labs in Washington perform these tests for $20 to $40 per test.  Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is also available on the WA DOH, EPA, CDC, and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department web sites.

Results of our lead monitoring program, conducted in accordance with the Lead and Copper Rule, can be found in Table 2 of your system's annual water quality report.

*The Action Level is the concentration of a contaminant which, when exceeded, triggers action which a water system must follow before it becomes a health concern.