Lockport water testing shows heightened lead levels in some buildings

water faucet

Lockport — Lockport residents are advised that the city has recently found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes and buildings due to old lead water lines and plumbing.

The most recent round of Lockport’s semi-annual water testing examined water from 30 sites, finding lead in four of the buildings. According to federal and state regulations, water must be tested twice a year, and action must be taken if lead is found at a level above 15 parts per billion in 10 percent or more of the tested locations.

In the first half of 2023, lead was found in three of the 30 tested buildings, according to a news release from the city.

When the testing exceeds the EPA’s required levels, the city is required to notify the public of the results and promote “education and possible corrective action.”

According to the release from the city, there is no lead present in the city’s source wells, the distribution system, or the city’s treated drinking water. Any lead present in the tested buildings must come from old lead service lines, solder, or pipes or fixtures within the building.

Buildings most at-risk for elevated lead levels in their water are those which were plumbed before 1986.

Over the past five years, the city has been systematically replacing the publicly owned portion of lead water service lines, which run from water mains to buildings’ shut off valves, during the process of capital improvement projects. Since 2019, approximately 62 lead service lines have been replaced, though at least 176 lead water lines still remain, according to the city.

The city plans to continue its replacement program in 2024 and 2025, and beyond until all the lines are replaced, and is taking measures to improve corrosion control treatment in the city’s water treatment plants, to reduce damage done to existing lead pipes, according to the release.

Additionally, the city said in its announcement that it will be “increasing lead exposure education to Lockport’s water customers through water bill mailings and event presence” and continue to test water and identify line material for unknown water service lines.

If property owners receive water service through lead pipes or plumbing and wish to participate in the water sampling program, they can get more information at the city’s website or by calling City Hall. You can learn if your home or property receives water through lead service lines through the city’s service line material dashboard, according to the release.

Testing will help identify areas which need to be prioritized for service, and can reduce the risk of exposure by understanding if your plumbing needs to be replaced. If property owners discover lead in their water, it is advisable to replace any pipes or plumbing within the building that are made of lead, the city said.

Lead poses serious health risks if ingested at too high a level, especially during pregnancy, in children six and under, and for adults with kidney problems or high blood pressure. Ingesting lead can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and can interfere with the transmission of oxygen throughout the body, which can lead to impaired brain function in children.

In order to avoid ingesting dangerous levels of lead, residents are advised to run drinking water faucets for at least 30 seconds to flush out lead before taking water for drinking or cooking. Use cold water for cooking since hot water has more opportunity for exposure inside water heaters. Residents can also use National Sanitation Foundation certified water filters on faucets to filter out lead.