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Town Water Has No Lead Or Copper In Its Source Water Or Distribution Lines

Customers of the Town Estes Park water system recently received educational information regarding the potential health risk of lead in drinking water. It is important for Estes Park residents to understand that there is no lead in the source water used for treatment and there is no lead in the water being supplied to customers through our distribution system. The Town of Estes Park water system consists of pipes lined with concrete or steel, which contain no lead or copper.

In Estes Park’s specific circumstance the source of lead in the water is lead solder used in household plumbing. Due to the corrosivity of water, over time metals used in household piping are leached into water on the customer’s premises. Estes Park’s source water (snow melt) is extremely pure with high oxygen content. This low- alkaline/high oxygen water is highly corrosive.

The EPA believes the potential for lead contamination in drinking water relates directly to the year which a home was built. For more information on this determination, visit attachment A (Tier1). Lead solder was banned nationwide in 1986. Homes built after that date should not be at risk. Homes constructed prior to 1980 are considered at low risk because any lead exposed to corrosive water has already been dissolved.

As a result, the EPA requires the Town of Estes Park to collect sample water from residences built between 1980 to1986. The few homes in the community which have tested above the lead action level were built in this time frame. In addition, the water tested was a “first draw” sample collected after the water had sat un-used over night maximizing the metals concentrations.

The notification which was mailed in late 2008 was mandated by the EPA and was initiated because a few homes in the area tested above the “action level” for lead concentrations. However, exceeding the EPA’s action level is not a drinking water violation, nor does it mean that the water is unsafe to drink.

The Lead and Copper Rule is the only regulation in the Safe Drinking Water Act which employs this action level concept. The action level for lead is 15 parts per billion and is intended as an early warning that public water systems may need to optimize their corrosion control efforts. It also provides at-risk individuals, primarily infants and pregnant women, the opportunity to consider protective action.

When the original Lead & Copper Rule was implemented by the state in 1992, the Town of Estes Park began adding a corrosion inhibitor. An adjustment to this treatment process is needed periodically as pipes feeding off of the Town of Estes Park’s water distribution system age. Because of the addition of a corrosion inhibitor, Town of Estes Park water customers can expect the life of their household pipes to be extended considerably.

The Town water department has implemented treatment adjustments which should re-establish optimal corrosion protection. Additional testing is being conducted to confirm the effectiveness of those adjustments. If homeowners have any concern about lead concentrations in their drinking water, the best protection is to simply let your faucets run until it becomes noticeably cooler, or 15-20 seconds, before consumption. Also, be sure to only use water from the cold tap for cooking or drinking, as heat speeds up the corrosion process.

For additional information on lead in drinking water customers may call the Town of Estes Park water department at 970-577-3619.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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