Edmonds water comes from ‘high quality’ source | City Corner

By Phil Williams, Public Works Director | Jun 09, 2016
Phil Williams, Public Works director

I would first like to thank The Beacon for the opportunity it provides the city to present information in the public interest. We know your publication plays an important role in getting local news to our citizens.

The issue of lead in drinking water has been a big topic lately. The stories out of Flint, Mich. at a national level, as well as those coming from Tacoma more recently, have caused concern for many of our citizens.

I would like to provide readers with some basic background information on the issue.

In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the Lead and Copper Rule. This national standard has been modified and expanded five times during the last 25 years.

The law required all water systems to begin monitoring for lead. Edmonds purchases all of its potable water from Alderwood Water District, which gets its water from the City of Everett system.

The source of this water is the pristine watershed above Spada Lake in the North Cascades.

The new law set a lead standard of 15 parts per billion (ppb) at the customer’s tap.

If 10 percent or more of your sample results exceed this level, then additional steps must be taken to reduce the corrosive effect of the water on pipes and fittings.

It should be mentioned that research on lead toxicity has not yet been able to identify a concentration of lead in drinking water that would have zero biological impact.

This means the lower the lead concentration, the lower the health risks are to consumers.

Both the Everett and Alderwood systems initially exceeded the action limit for lead in the first round of monitoring in 1992. The main source of contamination was found to be lead leaching from brass faucets.

In 1993, Everett made pH adjustments at their corrosion control facility to address this issue.

Edmonds has participated in the Everett/Alderwood lead and copper sampling program since it began in 1992. Samples have been taken every three years and sent to Everett for testing.

In 2016, the Department of Health suggested, in addition to this required monitoring, that water systems also test any individual homes and businesses they believed might have service lines installed around 1930.

The target would be service lines installed with lead pigtails or "goosenecks" right before the customer's meter. In 1935, the industry stopped using this type of connection. The oldest water mains in Edmonds were installed in 1929.

City crews have exposed many service lines over the years while repairing or replacing water mains and have not found any that had lead goosenecks.

In all, a total of 82 samples have been collected and analyzed in Edmonds since monitoring began. These samples are taken at locations where the highest lead levels would be expected based on the age of the home, the location of the home, and other conditions.

Samples are taken first thing in the morning to catch the water that has been in the customer's pipes the longest without moving.

All of the sample results have shown compliance with the Lead and Copper rule. No samples from Edmonds have exceeded this limit for over 13 years.

Edmonds has also coordinated with the Edmonds School District on this issue. They already test their schools yearly for lead and copper and have either replaced the old plumbing or have lined the galvanized plumbing so that corrosion is fully controlled.

All of their sample results have also fallen well below the action level for both lead and copper.

I hope this information helps our water customers put the current lead issue into proper context. We are blessed with high quality source water coming from the Everett water system.

This system has been well managed for many years. The corrosion control facility, as currently operated, keeps water quality conditions stable and predictable. This is important in keeping any remaining lead, located in old fittings and pipes, from leaching into our drinking water. As time goes by water mains get replaced with newer piping systems and older homes get their individual plumbing systems upgraded.

That means, over time, this important issue will eventually disappear.

In the meantime, your water department will continue to diligently comply with all parts of federal and state regulations not just for lead but all other drinking water regulations that have been adopted and serve to protect public health.







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