News

York Water Co. reports spike in lead levels

Written by Lillian Reed/Hanover Evening Sun | Oct 27, 2016 7:56 AM
Thumbnail image for lead-explainer-faucet.jpg

(Undated) -- Some York Water Company customers may have been exposed to high levels of lead this year, according to a company news release.

York Water Company, which recently completed its state-mandated lead testing for 2016, found six properties had water that exceeded the federal and state threshold for lead of 15 parts per billion.

One part per billion is the equivalent of about one drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states exposure to lead above 15 parts per billion, which accumulates over time in the blood stream, can cause kidney damage, an increased risk of cancer and development issues in children, who are particularly vulnerable to the substance.

Water typically leaves a treatment plant lead free. It's on its way to your home that lead gets into your water. Sean Heisey

The company tested 50 high-risk homes, five of which are permitted under the law to exceed the 15 parts per billion.

Since six properties exceeded the action level, York Water Company must take action to address the lead levels, according to state laws.

Failure to complete any of the required follow-up actions could lead to future violations, said Department of Environmental Protection representative John Repetz in an email Wednesday.

To address lead, water systems can adjust how corrosive the water is and replace any lead service lines between the water plant and a home, including customer-owned lead service lines. Excessively corrosive water reacts with lead service lines, causing the lead to leach into the drinking water.

The company will also have to continue testing samples once every six months until two consecutive monitoring rounds show that at least 90 percent of the sampled homes fall below 15 parts per billion.

The six properties found to contain excess lead in their water were built before 1935 and still have lead service lines in use. Customers were notified of the spike in lead and will be given a 200-gallon flushing credit and offered free water testing, the release states.

About 1,660 properties using York Water Company --approximately three percent of the company's customer base -- still have lead service lines in use.

"We take lead very seriously" Hines said in the release.

The company is expediting the replacement of the last remaining lead service lines in its service area, Hines said. The company hopes to replace all of the company-owned and customer-owned lead service lines within three to four years.

Customers who are not sure if they have a lead service line are asked to visit the company's website to enter their account number under the Lead Information page.Those living in apartments built before 1935 are asked to contact their landlords.

Recommendations for reducing lead in water

  • Flush pipes before drinking by running water for at least 3 minutes (about 3 gallons) if the water lines have not been used for more than six hours. 
  • Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and eating
  • Using certified water filters and treatment devices. 

 

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