Preventing Lead Contamination – WGBY Connecting Point

How SWSC monitors for and reduces the potential for lead contamination was discussed on the July 18, 2019 episode of WGBY’s Connecting Point.

Lead is very seldom found in any drinking water as it leaves a treatment plant. Instead, lead most frequently enters drinking water supplies through plumbing and fixtures that may have lead in them. Lead is typically more common in the plumbing of older homes and buildings, but lead was not completely banned from plumbing until the late 1980s, and even afterwards was still present in some solder and fixtures. Preventing the leaching of lead into drinking water is known as “corrosion control.” Corrosion control is the addition of treatment chemicals (usually phosphate) that prevents lead from leaching from pipes and fixtures into the water that flows through them.

The Commission goes above and beyond to prevent lead contamination in the distribution system. First, it maintains a corrosion control program in compliance with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulations. This includes testing a sample set of homes in accordance with the federal Lead and Copper Rule on a three-year cycle. But the Commission also samples water leaving the treatment plant daily for adequate levels of corrosion control, and samples multiple times a week throughout the city as well. The Commission has also assisted Springfield Public Schools in their sampling of school fixtures.

In addition, all known lead service lines (which connect a building to the water main in the street) were proactively removed and replaced in the 1990s. For more information on lead and drinking water, click here.