CINCINNATI — “The water situation in Flint, Michigan, does not exist in Cincinnati.”
That’s according to a memo released by Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black, in response to growing concerns out of Michigan and now northern Ohio that lead is leaching into water from some pipes, contaminating cities’ water supplies.
The science behind the problem? The water's chemistry in these problem areas makes the water more corrosive than the pipes can handle safely.
In the memo, Black references the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 1991 Lead and Copper Rule, which mandated water treatment systems adjust their water chemistry to avoid corrosion that would cause such leaching.
Black said Greater Cincinnati Water Works has been in compliance with that rule since its inception.
But Black also mentioned in the memo that roughly 16,000 water service lines — about 7 percent — throughout the system consist of lead.
“The corrosion control treatment does minimize the lead coming from these lines,” Black said. “But since the lines are present they pose an ever present risk.”
Overall, though, 95 percent of Cincinnati homes have been shown to contain “no or very low levels of lead,” the memo said, adding that homes built before 1927 are more likely to have lead pipes.
According to the memo, homeowners can test if their pipes are lead by scratching the water line coming into the home with a coin. If the pipe scratches easily and leaves a shiny, silver mark, the pipe could be lead, and the homeowner should have the home’s water supply tested.
Greater Cincinnati Water Works will test a home’s water at no charge, or homeowners can use home-test kits like the “H2-OK Kit.”