Letter says you may have lead water pipes

Letter says you may have lead water pipes
Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 18:25:16-04

In the aftermath of the Flint, Michiagan lead water crisis, thousands of Cincinnati-area homeowners are receiving alarming letters.

They say you could have lead pipes in the yard outside your home.

Many recipients are wondering what this means and what they can do about it, if anything.

"You trust your water is healthy"

Rochelle Hensley is a Northern Kentucky mom concerned about all the news reports of lead tainted water around the country.

"it just seems unbelievable," she told us. "You trust your water is healthy for your kids, it's scary to that it might not be."

Now, almost 20,000 Cincinnati Water Works customers are receiving a letter in the mail, telling them that their older homes could have lead pipes under their front yards.

Water Works director Cathy Bailey tells 9 On Your Side this is just a precautionary letter being sent to owners of older homes, in areas where lead pipes have been found.  

It does not mean your pipes are necessarily made of lead.

And even if your water service pipes are indeed lead, your water can still be safe.

"We have an excellent corrosion control process in our system," Baily explained. "As part of our daily treatment process, we are making sure the lead is not leaching from the pipes to get into the water coming into the home," she said.

Additives such as lime and calcium safety coat lead pipes, she said, "so the water is safe for all our customers to drink."

What You Can Do

But if you are still concerned you might have lead pipes coming into your home, there's a simple test you can do, and all you need is a penny or a quarter.

A YouTube video, courtesy the Severn Trent Water District, shows how to do a simple scrape test  of the water pipe coming into your home. CLICK HERE to see the video.

You will find the pipe in the basement or garage, on an inside wall, before the water gets to the meter.

First scrape off any paint or dirt.  Then scrape the surface.  

  • If it's lead, it will be soft, and very easy to scrape down to shiny silver. You can almost scrape a lead pipe with your fingernail.
  • Galvanized steel or copper pipes won't scrape down to silver. In addition, copper pipes are typically brown, and are the safest water pipes you can have.
  • Plastic pipes are usually blue or yellow, and are obvious that they are plastic.

Think you have a lead pipe? You can test your water for lead with $20 kits sold at hardware stores, Home Depot, or Lowe's.

Or you can send a sample of your water to Water Works for free testing.
Earlier this year, we tested Rochelle Hensley's water, and found it safe."That leaves me feeling a little better," she said.

If you want a new pipe from the street, that can cost as much as $3,000.

But a simple kitchen water filter from Brita, Pur, or similar brand-- for about $25 -- should be all most people need, if anything.

That way you stay safe and you don't waste your money.

Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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