Lead and Copper & Drinking Water

Lead and Copper Info

Notice
Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act

  1. Public Law 111-380 amended Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the purpose of reducing lead in drinking water.  The short title of the legislation is the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act”.  The requirements of this new law take effect 36 months after the date of enactment or January 4, 2014.
  2. Section 1417 (a)(1) of the SDWA states that "no person may use any pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder, or any flux, in the installation or repair of any public water system or any plumbing in a residential or nonresidential facility providing water for human consumption that is not lead free".  Section 1417 (d) defines "lead free" to mean that solders and flux may not contain more than 0.2 percent lead; and pipes, pipe fittings, and components may not contain more than 8.0 percent lead.
  3. Public Law 111-380 changes the definition of “lead free” from 8% to 0.25% for pipes, pipe fittings, and components, based on a weighted average of the wetted surfaces.
  4. The Act applies to residential and nonresidential facilities providing water for human consumption.  You should be aware that under the SDWA, the definition of a public water system is not simply the distribution system but also includes the treatment, the storage, and any collection systems.  The lead free requirement covers all components and materials used in the waterworks from source to tap.
  5. It is very important to realize that this new requirement applies to the installation and the repair of any system that serves water for drinking.  After January 4, 2014 you can no longer utilize any component that does not meet the new lead free definition – this includes components that you may have in current inventory. 
    • Devices and materials currently in service which meet the previous definition of lead free do not have to be removed or replaced.  They may continue to be used, until they need to be replaced or repaired.
    • Replacement devices will clearly need to meet the new lead free definition.
    • There is currently a question about the use of new components that meet the new lead free definition to repair old appurtenances or devices, if the repaired device may still have components that do not meet the new definition, or if the entire device must now meet the new definition.  EPA has not yet provided guidance on this issue.
  6. The Act has two specific exemptions from the lead free requirement;
    • The first exemption is for pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures, including backflow preventers, that are used exclusively for non-potable services such as manufacturing, industrial processing, irrigation, outdoor watering, or other uses where the water is not anticipated to be used for human consumption.
    • The second exemption is for specific components or products and does not have the language that it is used exclusively for non-potable services.  Exempted are shower valves, tub fillers, service saddles, and water distribution main gate valves that are 2 inches in diameter or greater.
    • Note that the above are exempted from meeting any definition of lead free. So any item covered by these exemptions can contain any amount of lead.
  7. The NSF has amended its standard (NSF/ANSI Standard 61) to include an Annex G (took effect in 2010) that addresses the weighted lead content of products.  If products are specified to bear the NSF 61-G Certification Mark, they will comply with the new lead free requirements of PL 111-380. Beginning January 4, 2014, all NSF 61 products will be required to comply with the lead free requirements of the law.
  8. In addition to the lead free content requirements, NSF/ANSI 61 sets requirements for the amount of lead that can leach from products in contact with drinking water.  NSF updated that standard with new stricter requirements that took effect on July 1, 2012.
  9. Also note that any previously adopted and approved Standard Construction Specifications will need to be amended to require that any component utilized in the repair or construction of a waterworks must meet the new lead free requirements (NSF/ANSI 61) beginning January 4, 2014. 

Public Law
NSF Stds
UL Summary
Annex G Overview

The following lead samples were collected from community waterworks during 2013 - 2016; however, they were rejected and not analyzed due to the reason indicated below.

 

PWSID WATERWORKS NAME LIMS SAMPLE DATE SAMPLE TYPE SAMPLE POINT SAMPLE POINT DESCRIPTION
VA2125950 STONEY CREEK VILLAGE 16091475-02A 9/12/2016 SPECIAL LCR020 200 LAKESIDE CLOSE
VA2125950 STONEY CREEK VILLAGE 16091475-01A 9/12/2016 SPECIAL LCR020 200 LAKESIDE CLOSE
VA2125950 STONEY CREEK VILLAGE 16083086-04A 8/12/2016 SPECIAL LCR020 200 LAKESIDE CLOSE
VA5031050 ALTAVISTA, TOWN OF E140606528 7/15/2014 SPECIAL LC019 915 MAIN STREET
VA5031175 BROOKNEAL, TOWN OF E130305234 5/13/2013 SPECIAL LC010 TOWN HALL
VA5049150 CUMBERLAND COUNTY WATER SYSTEM E131202889 3/10/2014 SPECIAL LC004 1527 ANDERSON HWY
VA5049150 CUMBERLAND COUNTY WATER SYSTEM E131202882 3/10/2014 SPECIAL LC006 1539 ANDERSON HIGHWAY
VA5049150 CUMBERLAND COUNTY WATER SYSTEM E131202881 3/10/2014 SPECIAL LC001 13 COURTHOUSE CIRCLE
VA5049150 CUMBERLAND COUNTY WATER SYSTEM E131202880 3/18/2014 SPECIAL LC003 1583 ANDERSON HWY
VA5049150 CUMBERLAND COUNTY WATER SYSTEM E131202879 3/10/2014 SPECIAL LC008 1473 ANDERSON HIGHWAY
VA5067359 STAROVERLAKE E150601827 8/11/2015 SPECIAL LC008 995 LAKEMOUNT
VA5067990 WOODCREST E131002593 12/2/2013 ROUTINE LC005 133 CRESTWOOD DR
VA5067990 WOODCREST E131002595 12/2/2013 ROUTINE LC004 129 CRESTWOOD DR
VA5117419 LONG BRANCH SHORES 1506E80-03A 6/5/2015 ROUTINE LC003 556 LONG BRANCH DR
VA6059800 VIENNA, TOWN OF FW160624001-24_LCR 6/22/2016 SPECIAL LCRPOOL LCR SAMPLING POOL - 30 SMP REQD

Frequently Asked Questions

People everywhere are asking this question in response to the Flint, Michigan, water quality crisis.  When water pipes, plumbing, or connections to water systems made from lead wear down (corrode), there is a risk that lead could enter the drinking water.  Lead pipes may be present in a water system or in your home.

Lead can enter drinking water when water pipes or water service connections that contain lead wear down (corrode).  Corrosion is more likely when the make-up of the water has a lower pH or a low mineral content.  One of the most common problems occurs with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder (the material that joins metal pieces together).  Lead can enter the water from these sources, especially when hot water is used.

If water pipes, plumbing or connections to water systems that contain lead corrode, a number of factors play a role in whether lead will enter the water, and if it does, how much lead enters.

These factors include:

  • The pH of the water
  • Type of minerals in the water
  • Temperature of the water
  • How long the water sits in pipes
  • Whether protective coatings (“scales”) line the water pipes

Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. To find out if your home’s water pipes and fixtures contain lead, contact a plumber.

Flush your water pipes before drinking: "Flush" your pipes by running cold water until it becomes as cold as it will get. This could take as little as 30 seconds or 2 minutes or longer. This step is especially important when water from that faucet has not been used for 6 hours or more.

Only use cold water for eating and drinking: Use cold water for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Run cold water until it becomes as cold as it can get before you use it.

Use water filters or treatment devices: Many water filters and treatment devices are certified to reduce lead in drinking water. A list of filters and treatment devices that have been certified to reduce lead can be found here: NSF International Certified Lead Filtration Devices.

Contact your water service provider: Using the contact information on your water bill, ask your water service provider for a copy of its annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This report includes water quality details. In addition, be alert for any notices about water quality from your water service provider.

No, boiling water will NOT get rid of lead contamination.

In most situations, bathing and showering is safe for you and your children, even if the water contains lead. Human skin does not absorb lead in water. Check with your water service provider for recommendations specific to your water supply.

You can send a sample of your drinking water to a private laboratory for testing. Consult the Virginia Department of General Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, for a list of accredited laboratories. If your drinking water comes from a private well, the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Household Water Quality Program has information on how to get your well water tested.

Of most concern is that infants and children who drink water that contains high levels of lead have more risk of having delays in their physical or mental development. Children could also develop learning problems.  Adults who drink water contaminated with lead over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. The EPA website has more detailed information on possible health effects.

Yes, Virginia’s Waterworks Regulations set levels for lead and other contaminants in drinking water. Virginia’s regulations are consistent with the requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR).

Water service providers are required to monitor for lead levels in drinking water. Water samples are collected from customers’ water taps, and the locations to monitor are based on homes and buildings that are at high risk from aging plumbing and materials.  The number of samples collected is based on the number of customers served by the water service provider. Water samples are collected and analyzed every 6 months, unless the water service provider has qualified for reduced monitoring.

The drinking water “action level” for lead is 0.015 mg/L (milligrams per liter) or 15 ppb (parts per billion).   If a water service provider exceeds the lead “action level,” they have to meet specific requirements in the Waterworks Regulations.  These can include: additional water quality monitoring, corrosion control treatment, source water monitoring and/or treatment, public education, and/or lead service line replacement.

The Virginia Department of Health implements and enforces the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in Virginia.  Virginia’s Public Water Supplies Law and Waterworks Regulations spell out how this is done. The law and regulations apply to public water systems, including city (municipal) and county water systems. The VDH Office of Drinking Water (ODW) regularly monitors these water systems.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). It requires monitoring public water systems for lead and has requirements for taking action to reduce lead levels if it is elevated in drinking water.

Contact the Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water regional field office that serves your area.

Information about drinking water from private wells is available at these websites:

Check out the CDC webpage about drinking water and lead at cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/water.htm.