WSSC Details Long-standing Program to Minimize Lead Risk
Type of pipe, regular testing, monitoring and strict regulation ensure safety of drinking water in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laurel – February 19, 2016: In light of the national conversation over concerns of lead in public drinking water, WSSC’s water quality experts briefed commissioners this week on the safety of the drinking supply in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Two key points emerged: WSSC has no lead pipes in its water distribution system (which stops at a customer’s property line) and WSSC adds a corrosion inhibitor to its water that coats the inside of all pipes, including those on private property.
In 2005, WSSC conducted an aggressive search to find and replace any lead pipes in the WSSC system, but many homes built before the 1986 EPA ban of lead solder may still contain sources of lead in the solder that was used to connect copper plumbing inside their homes. In accordance with EPA regulations, every three years WSSC conducts random sampling in certain homes built prior to the EPA ban. Based on the latest round of sampling in 2014, results for all homes tested were below 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead, which is the EPA action level. Ninety-eight per cent of those tested were below 2 ppb.
Source water taken from the Potomac and Patuxent rivers is first treated by our water filtration plants where it is tested more than 500,000 times each year, including tests for lead before being sent out to homes and businesses through our 5,600 miles of distribution pipes. The results allow WSSC to make any adjustments to our operation or treatment process to maintain the highest level of water quality.
It’s important for customers to know that the corrosion inhibitor WSSC adds to the water creates a coating on pipes that prevents them from leaching lead, but it’s still possible that a few homes built prior to 1960 may still have lead service lines on their property. Concerned customers should contact a WSSC-Registered plumber to determine if their homes contain lead pipes in their homes or contact WSSC’s Water Quality Center at 301-206-7575 about having their water tested. More information is available on the WSSC website, and WSSC’s annual Water Quality Report can be found online, as well.
WSSC is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to ensure the water we provide customers meets federal and state regulatory standards. WSSC is also closely monitored by the executive and legislative branches in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, as well as state legislators in Annapolis. WSSC has never had a drinking water violation in its 98-year history.
Established in 1918, today WSSC is among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation. We proudly serve the 1.8 million residents of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, providing life’s most precious resource. WSSC drinking water has always met or exceeded federal standards.