Elevated levels of lead detected in St. Paul’s water supply
St. Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) says it is working to reduce lead exposure in the city’s drinking water after test samples show concentrations that surpass the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action level, according to a news release from the city.
SPRWS said that 13 tap water samples from homes and buildings in the service area were above 15 parts per billion, which is the level at which the EPA requires corrective actions.
“I think an important thing to note about that test is these samples are meant to test the worst-case scenario,” explained SPRWS Assistant General Manager Raquel Vaske. “So the water has to have sat stagnant. The customer is told not to clean their aerators. So, what we’re trying to do with those samples, is to test the worst-case scenarios so we can understand what customers might be exposed to if they’re not taking these extra steps.”
Officials say lead can get into the drinking water supply via household plumbing and lead-based paint built in homes before 1978.
Earlier this year, SPRWS launched a 10-year plan to remove all lead service lines without any charge to consumers.
There is also financial assistance available for property owners hoping to replace their lead service lines sooner.
If St. Paul property owners would like to replace lead service lines sooner, they can hire a licensed plumbing contractor to complete the work within private property and pay for it through a 20-year, low-interest loan through SPRWS.
Residents are advised to clean their faucet aerators at least once per quarter in order to reduce their exposure to lead.
Another way to minimize exposure is by letting water run before using it for drinking or cooking. Officials say to let the water run for 3-5 minutes if you have a lead service line and 30-60 seconds if you don’t have a lead service line. Consumers are also advised to use cold water because hot water absorbs more lead from pipes and boiling water does not reduce lead levels.
St. Paul residents can also take advantage of free water testing at laboratories around the area. Those labs can be found here.
SPRWS offers an interactive map to see if you have lead service lines.
If those test results show high levels of lead, residents can refer to these options to treat their water or find an alternative source.
More information from the EPA on reducing lead exposure can be found here.
More data on preventing child lead poisoning can be found here.
More information can be found by visiting the St. Paul Regional Water Services website, calling 651-266-6820 or emailing the department at firstname.lastname@example.org.