WSSC Water became aware of significant reports of pinhole leaks in 1999, and has worked as an advocate for our customers on this issue. We realize that these leaks can cause costly home repairs and great personal inconvenience. We thought you might be interested to know what we have done to address it.
Historically, copper has been one of the more commonly installed piping materials for domestic water service in homes. While WSSC Water is not responsible for home and commercial plumbing systems, customers’ concerns are important to us. That’s why we have aggressively investigated this issue.
WSSC Water has worked with the copper and plumbing industries, officials from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties and independent experts on copper corrosion to conduct data, water and pipe analyses. We also have contacted neighboring water utilities to discuss their experiences with pinhole leaks. Based on feedback from residents and plumbers in neighboring jurisdictions and from industry-related literature, pinhole leaks in copper pipes occur elsewhere in Maryland, the nation and world.
Two of the professionals we retained to assist in the investigation are Dr. Marc Edwards, a nationally recognized copper corrosion expert from Virginia Tech, and Dr. Steve Reiber of HDR Engineering. As recommended by Dr. Edwards and Dr. Reiber after extensive research on the WSSC Water situation, we began adding orthophosphate to the water in late 2003. Orthophosphate is a commonly used corrosion inhibitor; often added to reduce lead leaching from plumbing fixtures. This recommendation was coordinated with both Counties and the Maryland Department of the Environment. Orthophosphate has been added continuously since late 2003.
You can be assured about the safety and quality of our water. To guarantee water quality, stringent tests are regularly performed for more than 170 substances. WSSC Water’s Potomac and Patuxent Water Filtration Plants provide an average of 165 million gallons of safe drinking water each day. We’re proud that WSSC Water has always met or exceeded every water quality standard. View the latest Water Quality Report.
WSSC Water has supported or participated in national research sponsored by the Water Research Foundation on copper corrosion. Some summary information is copied below. “Assessment of Non-Uniform Corrosion in Copper Piping” notes that pinhole leaks have been documented in all 50 states.
Lead and Copper Rule and Distribution System Corrosion: An Overview of Foundation Research (2013)
An Overview of Foundation Research, a 2013 update of the paper first published in 2004 summarizing the objectives, general research approach, and major findings of Foundation projects that examined various aspects of the lead and copper corrosion issue. This summary of completed, ongoing, and recently funded Foundation research projects on lead offers a basic understanding of the issues surrounding distribution system corrosion and the Lead and Copper Rule.
Assessment of Non-Uniform Corrosion in Copper Piping (2008)
Assesses the prevalence of non-uniform corrosion in copper piping within the North American drinking water industry. Contractor: Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University Research partner: USEPA.
Non-Uniform Corrosion in Copper Piping--Monitoring Techniques (2009)
Conducted bench and pilot scale tests to evaluate techniques for identifying and monitoring non-uniform internal corrosion (pinhole leaks) in copper premise and service-line piping. Provides a tool for evaluating the consequences of changing treatment processes or water sources for the purpose of regulatory compliance, and also provides methods to evaluate corrosion control strategies to mitigate pinhole leak problems. Investigates rapid evaluation techniques that would enable the propensity for pitting to be directly integrated into any treatment study. Contractor: Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.
We realize this is an issue of great concern to you. Thank you for your interest.