Bangor Water

Article Title: Is there lead in my water?

Article Content

General Information

Lead is not found:

  • In our source of supply, Floods Pond in Otis
  • In the distribution pipes that carry water in the street to homes and businesses
  • In any known service line running from the water main into individual buildings (unlike services lines in Flint MI and some other cities)

For Bangor Water customers, the common source of lead in water is:

  • Lead solder used inside the building to join pipes
  • Household fixtures, such as faucets manufactured with some lead components

We treat our water to make it less corrosive, and reduce the potential for lead to leech from internal plumbing. Using or running the water on a regular basis further reduces the time that water is in long-term contact with internal plumbing.

Controlling the potential for lead in water has been a part of water treatment at Bangor Water since long before the national lead and copper regulation was in place.   Our work has included:

  • An intensive effort in the 1970s-80s to identify and remove lead components – such as service lines – throughout our system
  • Treatment of water to reduce “corrosivity”
  • Installation of “lead-free” water meters
  • Compliance with required testing beginning in 1992. The types of homes required to be tested are those known to have lead solder, so test results represent a “worst case scenario” of water that has been in contact with the household plumbing for 6-10 hours without use.

After results in 2010 found lead levels at some of these homes to be higher than allowed, we evaluated various options for modifying our water treatment process and implemented the changes on a trial basis. Test results through the end of 2013, in 2014, and in 2015 show levels of lead in water at the test homes now meet lead regulations.

Consequently, the Maine Drinking Water Program has noted that Bangor Water has returned to full compliance with lead and copper regulation. And of course, test monitoring will continue as required!

Reducing Lead In Water Exposure

Replace plumbing fixtures:  Faucets, fittings, and valves currently in your home may contain lead. Prior to January 2014, plumbing fixtures with up to 8% lead were legally sold in the U.S.  Since then new plumbing fixtures sold in the U.S. are now required to have “not more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead,” essentially lead-free.

Under the law, new products intended for contact with drinking water have the lowest possible lead content. Replacing older plumbing fixtures with lead-free products can further reduce the potential for lead exposure in your home.

Run Water:  When the water has not been used for several hours, run the cold water tap for 2-3 minutes before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes away any lead-containing water— at a cost of about two cents per flush.

Lead dissolves more easily in hot water, so use cold water from a flushed faucet to drink, cook, or prepare baby formula.

Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling does not reduce or remove lead.

Other Lead Exposure: There are many exposures to lead in our environment. It can be found in lead-based paint, soil, household dust, food, and certain types of pottery and porcelain. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 80% or more of a person’s total exposure to lead comes from sources other than drinking water.

Lead-based paint is especially dangerous once it has peeled and broken down into paint chips and dust. Children have the highest risk for ingesting lead and may contact it in dirt, dust, and paint chips. For this reason, it is important to wash children’s hands and toys often.

Have Your Water Tested:  Contact a certified lab; a list of some labs is shown below. An average cost per test is $30. Test results will give you an understanding of how much lead may dissolve into your water over a non-use period of 6-10 hours.

Schools and Childcare Facilities:

Here’s some updated information on reducing the potential of lead exposure from drinking water.