2019 Lead Testing - Fort Wayne Performs Better than Required

Water produced at the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant and traveling through City Utilities’ pipes is lead-free, but service lines on personal property or plumbing in homes can sometimes create a the potential for lead to be introduced into the water

Fort Wayne regularly tests water from taps in homes that are likely to have lead plumbing or have a lead water service line, and we will continue to do so on an annual basis.  In 2019, testing of 123 samples from  Jan 1- June 30, and testing of another 101 samples taken from July 1-December 31, show Fort Wayne well within the compliance of the recommended level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).

In 2019, City Utilities began feeding orthophosphate, a corrosion inhibitor that is intended to form a thin coating on the inner surface of the pipes in the water system and in the pluming of the homes.  This coating reduces the potential for lead leaching into the water.

City Utilities decided to add the orthophosphate after lead testing in 2018 found eight homes to have lead levels higher than 15 parts per billion (ppb). At that time, City Utilities notified the homeowners and all customers in the system, of the results.  Read more about the 2018 test results.

In 2020, City Utilities will continue monitoring lead and the effectiveness of the new orthophosphate treatment.

Sometimes when the water comes into contact with lead pipes and plumbing fixtures that connect buildings to the public water main system the lead level in the water can increase. Homes in Fort Wayne built before 1937 are likely to have service lines made of lead.  In homes built between 1937 and 1951 lead service lines are possible but not likely.  Homes built after 1951 are unlikely to have lead service lines.
 
Want to know if you have a lead service line?  National Public Radio has created a website with more information and a helpful video that shows how you can check your service line:   https://apps.npr.org/find-lead-pipes-in-your-home/en/#intro
 
Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Lead
 
There are a number of things property owners can do to reduce their possible exposure to lead. Click here for tips for reducing lead in your home.
 
City Utilities works closely with property owners who are interested in replacing water service lines that are made of lead.  Read more about lead service line replacement.

Information about lead from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)

Fort Wayne City Utilities has found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes and buildings in Fort Wayne. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Please read this information closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in drinking water.

Health Effects of Lead

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother's bones, which may affect the child's brain development.

Sources of Lead

Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning can significantly increase a person's total lead exposure, particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formula and concentrated juices that are mixed with water. The EPA estimates that drinking water can make up to 20 percent or more of a person's total exposure to lead.
 
Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect houses and buildings to water mains (service lines). In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2 percent lead and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes, and other plumbing materials to 8.0 percent. A new federal law that went into effect in 2014 will reduce the amount of lead allowed in plumbing fixtures to 0.25 percent. When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water. This means the first water drawn from the tap in the morning, or later in the afternoon if the water has not been used all day, can contain fairly high levels of lead.

Reducing Lead Exposure

You can take steps in the home (or anywhere else) to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water
 
Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer the water resides in the plumbing, the more lead it may contain. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet until the water gets noticeably colder, usually about 30 seconds. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of your home's plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking. Flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your health. It usually uses less than one or two gallons of water. To conserve water, fill a couple of bottles with water for drinking water after flushing the tap or draw water into a pitcher and place it in the refrigerator. Whenever possible, use the first flush water to wash dishes or water the plants.
 
Try not to cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Hot water can dissolve lead more quickly than cold water. If you need hot water, draw it from the cold tap and then heat it. Boiling water does not remove lead content and can concentrate it. In addition, do not mix baby formula with water from the hot water tap.

More Information

For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home or building and the health effects of lead, visit the EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/lead or contact your health care provider who can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead.
 
The Allen County Department of Health at 260-449-8600 can provide you with information about the health effects of lead and can provide a home assessment to determine possible sources of lead exposure in your home. 
 
Customers can have their tap water tested by contacting a laboratory certified to test for lead in drinking water. A list of those laboratories is available online at www.in.gov/isdh/22452.htm.