If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The Springfield Utility Board is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or click here for the epa website on lead in water.

Lead questions and answers

Do SUB’s water source have detectable lead levels?
No. Tests show there is no detectable lead in any of SUB’s five sources.  Lead seldom occurs naturally in water supplies.

Do drinking water lead levels in Springfield meet the regulated standard?
Yes. Drinking water Lead levels have met the regulated standard since testing started in 1992.

Are there any lead water mains in SUB’s pipe distribution system?
No. SUB has never used lead water mains. SUB Water Materials Inventory.

Are there detectable lead levels in SUB’s pipe distribution system?
No. Tests show there is no detectable lead in SUB’s pipe distribution system.

Is there lead in private water system plumbing?
There can be. If your home was built before 1986, it may have copper pipes with lead solder. In addition, any faucet purchased before 1997 may be constructed of brass containing up to 8% lead. When water stands for several hours in plumbing systems that contain lead, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water.

Does SUB’s system have any lead service lines?
No. SUB has never used lead service lines in its water system. A service line is the pipe that connects the drinking water main in the street to the water meter.

Does SUB’s system have any lead-pipe goosenecks?
Not that we know of, but we are currently confirming that they have all been removed. Lead-pipe goosenecks are short 2 – 3 foot pipes that connect a service line to a water main. They were used historically because they could be easily bent and allowed for flexible connections between rigid pipes. SUB’s records show that the only lead-pipe goosenecks in our system were on water mains installed prior to 1949. For more than 40 years, SUB’s practice has been to remove any lead-pipe goosenecks that we find during the work of regular operations and maintenance. To ensure there are no lead-pipe goosenecks in the water system, SUB is digging up all pre-1949 water services that have never been replaced. If a lead-pipe gooseneck is found it will be removed and replaced with new, lead-free piping material.

What is the greatest exposure risk to lead?
The greatest exposure risk to lead comes from swallowing lead paint chips or breathing dust that contains lead. Common sources of lead exposure include lead-based paint, household dust, soil, and materials used in plumbing. For more information, click here.

Is there anything that can be done to reduce the dissolving of lead from pipe materials?
Yes. SUB has installed highly effective treatment processes that reduce the amount of lead leached from private plumbing fixtures and pipe solder.

What is the regulated level for lead in drinking water?
The lead standard for drinking water is 15 parts per billion (ppb). If more than 10 percent of tested taps have more than 15 ppb of lead, the public water system would be out of compliance and must take certain actions. SUB has not exceeded this standard. Drinking water with more than 15 ppb of lead over long periods of time can cause health effects.

What are the Health Effects of Lead?
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of exposure is to infants, young children and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development. Click here for more information from oregon.gov. 

How can I reduce my exposure to lead in drinking water?

Run your water to flush out lead.
Before using water for drinking or cooking, run the water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it becomes colder from the tap, especially if the water has not been used for many hours. This flushes water that may contain lead from the pipes.

Use cold, fresh water for cooking, drinking and preparing baby formula.
Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.

Regularly clean your faucet aerator.
Particles containing lead from solder or household plumbing can become trapped in your faucet aerator. Regularly cleaning every few months will remove these particles and reduce your exposure to lead.

Consider buying low-lead faucets.
As of January 2014, all pipes, fittings and fixtures are required to contain less than 0.25% lead, which is termed “lead-free”.

Consider investing in a filter.
Before you buy, confirm that the filter reduces lead – not all filters do. Remember that bacteria and other contaminants can collect in filters if not properly maintained, making water quality worse, not better.

Click here for more information on lead in drinking water from the Oregon Health Authority.