Lead and Copper Service Line Study
Revised Lead and Copper Rule - Identification of Pipe Material
In accordance with the new Federal regulations and guidelines released on August 4, 2022, Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) is conducting a lead and copper service line study throughout its service area.
Previous studies have indicated that EMWD customers are not at risk; however, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water require that lead pipelines on the customer side of the water meter, built prior to 1986, be identified.
About Lead and Copper
Lead and copper are rarely found in water; however, both of these metals can enter drinking water from household plumbing and fixtures. Water that sits in your pipes for long periods of time may dissolve tiny amounts of lead and/or copper into household water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has developed the Lead and Copper Rule to protect public health by establishing an action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1300 ppb for copper. One part per billion is equivalent to one second in 32 years.
Lead is very dangerous to human health. For children, lead exposure can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including affecting IQ, focus, and academic achievement. Plumbing and plumbing fixtures are potential sources of lead in homes that can contaminate drinking water.
Understanding Your Water Service Pipe
Source: DC Water
Self-Identification of Lead Pipes – How To Check
Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) water service lines are not made of lead. However, the water service line on the customer’s side of the water meter may be made of lead or steel. Lead may also be found in older brass fixtures, valves, solder or epoxy where pipes are joined.
Visual Scratch Testing
Customers may check the water service line on their side of the water meter to determine if it contains lead. Customers will need either a key or coin, or a strong magnet and should follow these steps:
- Locate your water meter, which is typically in the front yard of your home.
- Carefully scratch the pipe on your side of the water meter with a key or coin, taking care to not make a hole in the pipe. If the scratch turns a shiny silver color, the pipe may contain lead or steel.
- Place a magnet on the pipe. If it sticks, the pipe is steel. The magnet will not stick to lead or copper.
An example of a meter setting is shown below.
Lead is a dull gray color and very soft. If scraped with a key it will turn a bright silver color. Even a very strong magnet will not stick to lead.
Your private water service line could be made of three different materials depending on the age of your plumbing fixtures: lead (left), copper (middle), galvanized steel (right).
Lead Pipe – If the scratched area is shiny and silver, your service line is lead. A magnet will not stick to a lead pipe.
Copper Pipe – If the scratched area is copper in color like a penny, your service line is copper. A magnet will not stick to a copper pipe.
Galvanized Steel Pipe – If the scratched area remains a dull gray, your service line is galvanized steel. A magnet will stick to this pipe.
Customers may also purchase a lead test kit at a home improvement store. The kit will test what the material of the pipe and not the water inside of it. It is encouraged to use a USEPA recognized testing kit. A licensed plumber may also inspect your pipes and plumbing fixtures for lead or steel. Replacing older brass faucets or valves may also reduce the amount of lead that seeps into the water in your home.