In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) granted approval for Denver Water to begin their Lead Reduction Program. The 15-year program aims to reduce the likelihood of lead getting into the drinking water as it passes through lead-containing household plumbing and service lines that are owned by the customer.
The Lead Reduction Program has five main components:
- Increasing the pH level, which reduces the corrosivity of the water.
- Developing and maintaining a publicly accessible inventory of all customer-owned lead service lines in Denver Water’s service area.
- Replacing the estimated 65,000 lead service lines in Denver Water’s service area with copper lines over the next 15 years.
- Providing at-home water filters free of charge for all customers in Denver Water’s service area with a suspected lead service line.
- Ongoing communication, outreach and education.
Denver Water staff developed a plan to prioritize those who are most susceptible and at risk of lead exposure, especially infants and children. Areas with large numbers of facilities that serve these populations, such as schools and daycares, will be prioritized. The first surge of service line replacements began in February.
Starting in March 2020, Denver Water will be increasing the pH range to between 8.5 and 9.2, with a target of 8.8, to reduce the corrosivity of the water. Currently the water delivered by Denver Water has a pH level between 7.5 and 8.5, with a target level of 7.8. The pH adjustment will strengthen a protective coating inside the pipes, reducing the likelihood of lead getting into drinking water as it passes through lead-containing pipes and household plumbing. Denver Water states that this will not affect the taste or odor of the water, but customers may notice the water feels more “slippery.”
For 2020, Denver Water has a goal of replacing 4,477 (7% of the 65,000) lead service lines. This is in addition to the lines that are replaced by Denver Water as they come across them during water main replacement projects. Denver Water will provide free water filter pitchers that are certified to remove lead from drinking water to all customers who either have or are suspected of having a lead service line until six months after the line is replaced.
Denver Water will continue to communicate and educate customers about the issue of lead and the status of the program. For more information on this program, visit www.denverwater.org/lead.
Source: Denver Water