Fluoride and Other Chemicals in Drinking Water

Fluoride
Fort Wayne 's continued practice of adding fluoride to City tap water follows the recommendations of a variety of organizations including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and professional associations of drinking water providers. In accordance with the positions taken by these science-based groups, Fort Wayne has determined that adding fluoride to drinking water is an economical way to help provide some protection against tooth decay – especially for the members of our community who can most benefit – our young people.

North American water systems have been adding fluoride to their water supplies since 1945. According to the American Dental Association, the rate of tooth cavities in children has been reduced substantially where fluoridation has been implemented. Dentists are beginning to suspect that increased use of bottled water may be part of the reason for recent increases in the rate of tooth decay among children. While bottled water is not being blamed for causing tooth decay, most bottled water does not contain enough fluoride to help prevent it. A number of bottled water companies have started adding fluoride to their products because of the health benefits. They have labeled their bottles so that consumers will know if fluoride is present.

Recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in August 2001and available on the CDC's website at www.cdc.gov confirm that there are health benefits of adding fluoride to drinking water, especially for children. In a statement on water fluoridation, the CDC says that it continues to strongly support community water fluoridation as a safe and effective public measure to prevent tooth decay and improve overall health. The CDC calls drinking water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.

The CDC provides guidelines and recommendations for managers of fluoridated water systems to help us establish and maintain appropriate fluoride concentrations. The recommended levels vary on a state-by-state basis but, in general, the CDC suggests that fluoride levels in drinking water should be maintained at around 1.1 milligram per liter (mg/L). According to the CDC, a level as low as 0.2 mg/L can result in a measurable change in the prevalence and severity of tooth decay.

While the EPA has set maximum limit for fluoride in drinking water of 4.0 mg/L, the City of Fort Wayne targets a fluoride concentration in our drinking water of 1.0 mg/L. Fort Wayne conducts regular testing of our tap water to ensure that we do not approach or exceed the EPA's limit and we are required to notify water customers if the concentration of fluoride does go over the 4.0 mg/L level. It is interesting to note that many municipal water utilities must remove fluoride in order to comply with the limit set by the EPA. Also, in certain places, water coming from private wells has a higher fluoride concentration than the EPA allows in public drinking water supplies.

Water fluoridation continues to be supported by the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

Lead in Drinking Water

Fort Wayne's water utility is committed to providing customers with the best possible water quality. Water leaving the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant meets or is better than all State and Federal standards. Sometimes when the water comes into contact with older lead pipes and plumbing fixtures, the lead level in the water can increase. Homes built before or around 1950 may have lead pipes that connect the house with the water line. Also, before 1986, household plumbing regularly contained lead or used lead solder.

There are a number of things property owners can do to reduce their possible exposure to lead.

pdfFrequently Asked Questions About Lead

Information from 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 your drinking water.

Q.     What are the health effects of lead?

Q.     What are the sources of lead?

Q.     What steps can you take in your home (or anywhere else) to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water?

Q.     Why is this a problem in Fort Wayne and what can be done?

Fort Wayne's water utility is committed to providing customers with the best possible water quality. Water leaving the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant meets, or is better than, all state and federal standards require.  Sometimes when the water comes into contact with older lead pipes and plumbing fixtures between the public water main system and a building or inside a home or business, the lead level in the water can increase. Homes built before around 1950 may have lead pipes that connect the house with the water line. Also, before 1986, household plumbing regularly contained lead or used lead solder.

Click here for answers to pdfFrequently Asked Questions About Lead

There are a number of things property owners can do to reduce their possible exposure to lead. pdfClick here for tips for reducing lead in your home.

Information from 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 your 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.

Steps you can take 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.
The steps described above will reduce the lead concentration in your drinking water. However, if you are still concerned, you may wish to purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking.

For more information, call the City of Fort Wayne at 311. 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. State and local government agencies that may be contacted include:

Fort Wayne's "One Call to City Hall" at 311 for more information about water supplied by the City of Fort Wayne.

Indiana State Department of Health at (317) 233-1250 or the Fort Wayne- Allen County Department of Health at (260) 449-8600 can provide you with information about the health effects of lead.
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.

Why is this a concern and what can be done?
 
Water leaving Fort Wayne's Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant meets or is better than all state and federal regulations require. The water from the plant meets all limits for lead concentration, but water may pick up lead when it sits in your building plumbing. Up until 1986, lead piping and lead solder were standard in the construction business for house and building plumbing such as water pipes and fixtures. These materials deteriorate over time and lead may enter drinking water in homes that have lead pipes or brass faucets or where lead solder has been used. The water service line that brings water into the building may also be made of lead. If you are interested in finding out if you have a lead water service pipe and how to work with the City to replace it, please contact City Utilities by calling 311.

Drinking Water Treatment

Fort Wayne City Utilities' primary commitment is to the health and safety of our customers. We take pride in always providing drinking water that meets or is better than all state and federal safety and quality regulations requirements. We value your trust and we are committed to providing safe water that you and your family can rely on.

City Utilities uses the following chemicals to clean and treat our drinking water.

  • Ferric sulfate and polymer -- these chemicals cause soil particles and other dissolved and suspended particles to stick together forming sticky clumps that settle out, taking physical contaminants with them. These chemicals are added then completely removed during the treatment process.
  • Calcium hydroxide -- also known as "lime", this softens the water by causing naturally occurring calcium and magnesium to be removed.
  • Powdered Activated Carbon -- similar to charcoal, this is added to the process then removed, taking taste and odor with it.
  • Chlorine – this includes free chlorine and chlorine dioxide used to kill bacteria. It is measured in parts per million (PPM). The Environmental Protection Agency's upper limit for chlorine is 4 ppm. Water leaving the filtration plant must contain at least 0.5 ppm to stop bacteria from developing in the water main system.

 

River Water Quality 

Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and other sources may contribute to high bacteria levels and river water quality degradation. Water quality is considered to be degraded if levels of bacteria are greater than the standard set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) for fishing and swimming. The water quality standard set by IDEM for e. coli bacteria is 235 organisms per 100 mls of water.

Weekly River Water Quality Report

Water quality testing is performed weekly between April 1 and October 31 of each year.
Testing of samples as of October 30, 2017
 
            119 organisms/100 ml at the Ferguson Bridge on the St. Marys 
             40 organisms/100 ml at the Mayhew Bridge on the St. Joseph
             78 organisms/100 ml at the Tennessee Bridge on the St. Joseph 
            461 organisms/100 ml at the Anthony Bridge on the Maumee 
             57 organisms/100 ml at the Landin Bridge on the Maumee
            326 organisms/100 ml at the Spy Run Bridge on the St. Marys

 

 General River Water Quality Measurements and Conditions

A variety of scientific parameters (chemical and physical measurements) make up river water quality. Bacteria, as noted above, are of particular concern to human health so this parameter is routinely measured and reported here. Other parameters are also routinely measured to help quantify overall river health. More information about these measurements, common values, and overall river conditions are explained on our Watershed Protection page. 


Drinking Water Quality

Annual Drinking Water Quality Report
 
pdfWater Quality Report for 2014 - published June 2015
 

Previous years' reports are located on the Archives page

Drinking Water Treatment 

Fort Wayne City Utilities' primary commitment is to the health and safety of our customers. We take pride in always providing drinking water that meets or is better than all state and federal safety and quality regulations requirements. We value...read more


Testing for Drinking Water Safety 

City Utilities tests drinking water for safety and quality throughout the water treatment process. Continuous monitoring of the water that comes from the St. Joseph River helps operators at the plant adjust the treatment process to the most effective level based on incoming water conditions.
Chemists at the plant test the water that goes out to customers for more than 120 substances. City Utilities also collects water samples from homes and businesses around the community to make sure the water arriving at the customers' taps remains safe.
Each year City Utilities publishes an annual water quality report showing the levels of substances commonly found in drinking water supplies.

pdfA Guided Walk Through the Water Treatment and Testing Process

City Utilities Facilities 

IMG 8436Have you ever wondered about the buildings where the City filters your drinking water? City Utilities operates a number of water-related facilities including the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant, Water Pollution Control Plant, Hurshtown Reservoir, Camp Scott, and others. Read more below about two of the main drinking facilities. 

For more information on drinking water quality or to schedule a tour of the pdfThree Rivers Water Filtration Plant, please call City Utilities by dialing 311 or (260) 427-8311.

Water Distribution and storage

Once the water is treated at the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant, it is held in a 20 million gallon underground storage reservoir just outside the plant until it is pumped out into the distribution system. Water is distributed to 5 elevated storage tanks around the City where it is stored until needed. The tanks also help maintain water pressure in the outskirts of the distribution system. Water travels through more than 1,160 miles of water mains to the 250,000 customers served by the Fort Wayne water utility.

Fort Wayne City Utilities operates several reservoirs that help to ensure an adequate supply of water for the City. Water can be impounded in the Cedarville Reservoir at Leo-Cedarville at the St. Joe River Dam near Johnny Appleseed Park. City Utilities also has a man-made reservoir near Grabill called the pdfHurshtown Reservoir

Lead in Drinking Water

Fort Wayne's water utility is committed to providing customers with the best possible water quality. Water leaving the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant meets or is better than all State and Federal standards. Sometimes...read more


Fluoride and Other Chemicals in Drinking Water

Fluoride 

Fort Wayne's continued practice of adding fluoride to City tap water follows the recommendations of a variety of organizations including the Centers for Disease Control, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and professional associations of drinking water provider. In accordance with the positions taken by these science-based groups, Fort Wayne has...read more