Over the past year, we have all heard many stories from around the country about lead in drinking water.  For those in Flint, Michigan, parts of New Jersey and New York, it is a crisis, but only in certain areas.  For others, it is a point of concern and awareness.  Hopefully, the information we share here can help answer questions you may have.

Municipalities in Minnesota are required to provide water test results with most posting the information on their websites.  If you are curious, go to your city’s website and search for Water Report.  It is also known as the Consumer Confidence Report.  We have collected most of the report results for the Minneapolis St. Paul area, so feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance.  These reports represent the first level of contaminants which cities are required to report, including lead. For these tested contaminants, there is a legal level in which the cities must stay below based on the Federal Safe Water Act.  Just so you are aware, there is also a second level of testing that is not required for reporting.

Where does the lead come from? If you are on a well rather than municipal water, be aware lead may be present as it can be a result of the erosion of natural deposits. However, most lead contaminants are due to leaching from corroding lead sources. These can be in your home, business, or in the miles of lines the water travels after the water leaves the treatment plant in your city.

Cities:
  • May have older lead service pipes for dispersing water throughout the city.
  • May have lead connection lines running from those service lines into your home.
Buildings:
  • Some older buildings may have internal lead pipes
  • Leaching can also happen from lead solder or older brass fixtures
Homes – some homes are vulnerable as well:
  • Lead pipes were often used in home construction before the early 1960’s
  • Lead solder was used in construction before 1986
  • High lead content brass fixtures were used in homes before 2014

Lead poses health hazards, especially in children, and is considered dangerous at 20 parts per billion (ppb).  Some studies have shown levels as low as 7 ppb can be dangerous.  This is why the water quality in our schools has been a large concern.  Lead is also absorbed in cooking making any kitchen faucet a concern.  Minnesota law has an Action Level (AL) of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for municipalities and most fall well below that.  However, as stated earlier, many of the problems occur after the water leaves the city water treatment plant.

At this point you may be thinking, “If I want to lessen the risk of lead in my water, what is the solution?” There are options depending on where your concerns may be.

In your home or office:
  1. We can install a high quality reverse osmosis drinking water system that will remove 97% of all contaminants. It may be able to be connected to your refrigerator water supply as well.
  2. You may rent a water cooler to accommodate 5-gallon bottles of purified water (purified water is different from filtered water).
  3. For offices, you may be able to install a reverse osmosis drinking water system in combination with water cooler.
For schools, there are three options:
  1. The flushing technique. Each faucet found to have lead must be flushed for 10 minutes, twice a day, before using.  This is both difficult to track and only a band-aid approach.
  2. Replace the pipes or fixtures responsible for the issue. This can be expensive and time consuming.
  3. We provide a specific filtration system for drinking fountains and commercial reverse osmosis systems for kitchen areas. These are a complete solution and much less expensive than replacing pipes or fixtures.
Are we in a crisis in the Twin Cities area or other areas around the state?  Not in our opinion.  If you stay informed, understand the facts and take action if/when necessary, then there is less concern.  Please contact Tri County Water Conditioning if we can answer further questions or be of assistance to you or your business.