What Greeley is doing about Lead and Copper in the Drinking Water System

What:

What is lead and copper?

Lead and copper are metals that have been standard plumbing materials used in drinking water systems for many years.  Many lead drinking water service lines were installed before the early 20th century through 1980, because lead is flexible and easy to work with.  Household plumbing fixtures, welding solder, and pipe fittings made prior to 1986 may contain lead.  Modern copper pipes became common in homes in the 1930s to the present.  People did not realize until the early 20th century that lead and copper could leach out of the pipes and into the drinking water.  The issue really became apparent with the public health crisis in Flint, Mich., from 2014-19, where high levels of lead in drinking water created health problems in the community.

 

What has Greeley done about lead service lines?

Since 1991 Greeley has pursued aggressive lead service line removal.  Since then, crews have removed 1,207 lead service lines in Greeley.  There is an ongoing identification process in place for removing the remaining lines.  Individual homes may still have lead lines running from the valve at the property line into houses or have lead piping/fixtures/solder inside their homes.  The responsibility of ascertaining the condition/content of piping and removal from the valve at the property line to the inside of the home, is the responsibility of the owner.  In addition to replacing lead service lines, Greeley continually adjusts the pH and alkalinity of the water to maintain appropriate corrosion control.  This minimizes the chance of metals leaching into the drinking water. 

 

What are the monitoring compliance requirements?

Customer Tap samples:  Greeley Water is required to collect tap samples that are analyzed for lead and copper from 50 consumer taps once a year during the period of June through December.  Greeley makes sure to test “Tier 1” taps.   Tier 1 sample sites must be single-family structures that contain copper pipes with lead solder installed after 1982; contain lead pipes; and or are supplied by a lead service line.    

Entry point samples: Greeley Water is required to monitor the points where water enters the distribution system from the water treatment plant every other week for pH and alkalinity.  pH and alkalinity results help water treatment plant operators understand the corrosivity of the water that is entering the distribution system. 

Distribution system samples: Greeley Water is required to collect 20 tap samples from 10 locations on two separate days every 6 months to be analyzed for pH and alkalinity. The results help water treatment plant operators understand if corrosivity has changed anywhere in the distribution system by comparing the results to the entry point samples. Adjustments can be made to the chemistry of the water at the plant to help maintain consistent pH and alkalinity in the distribution system.  

The results of all the sampling are reported to CDPHE and monitored by state regulators. 

 

What do I do if I have concerns?

Coordinate with Weld County, or a private laboratory of your choice, to have your water tested for lead and copper. 

Step 1. Get a 1-liter sample bottle from Weld County or a private lab of your choice. 

Step 2. After the water sits in your pipes all night long, collect a cold water tap sample from your kitchen sink in the 1-liter bottle. 

Step 3. Immediately take the sample bottle to the Weld County Lab or a private lab of your choice and have it analyzed for lead and copper. 

Each test costs around $21 from Weld County; the customer must verify private lab costs. In addition, Weld County has recently procured a grant to test water for lead and copper for free for daycare facilities. Please contact the Weld County Laboratory for more information about the Lead and Copper Grant program or other testing services at (970) 400-2276.

How:

How does lead and copper get into drinking water?

Lead and copper can enter drinking water when a chemical reaction occurs in plumbing materials that contain lead and copper. This is known as corrosion – dissolving or wearing away of metal from the pipes and fixtures. This reaction is more severe when the water has high acidity or low mineral content. How much lead enters the water is related to water chemistry and factors such as temperature, pH, alkalinity, and the amount of lead in which the water comes into contact.

Why:

Why should I be concerned?

Health effects of lead:  Increased levels of lead affect children the most. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. Other at-risk populations include pregnant women who can experience reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth. Adults who consume too much lead can experience cardiovascular issues and decreased kidney function. 

Health effects of copper:  The Food and Drug Administration recommends a dietary allowance of 2 milligrams (mg) of copper per day.  However, eating or drinking too much copper can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, liver damage, and kidney disease. People with Wilson’s disease and some infants (babies under 1 year) are extra sensitive to copper. Their bodies are not able to get rid of extra copper easily.

Who:

Who monitors Public Water Systems for lead and copper?

Two main regulatory agencies, the EPA and CDPHE, ensure that public water systems properly monitor for lead and copper. The EPA has revised the Lead and Copper Rule (which is part of the Clean Drinking Water Act) multiple times over the years to better protect public health. When an update is made by EPA, CDPHE also revises Regulation 11.26 to reflect the change. CDPHE regulations currently require regular testing of the distribution system for lead and copper as well as corrosion factors of pH and alkalinity. Naturally, Greeley Water complies with the state regulations for testing, monitoring, and reporting to protect its consumers. The city of Greeley is required to conduct water sampling for pH and alkalinity (Per the Lead and Copper Rule). In February 2021, the city conducted its required samples from distribution system taps, but failed to collect a second set of samples from the same location on a different day. Thus a violation notice was issued. See the W&S Violation Notice here.

Visit the CDPHE Lead and Copper Rule page

Visit the EPA Lead and Copper Rule page

 

Contact Us

Greeley Water and Sewer

1001 11th Ave, 2nd Floor
Greeley, CO 80631

Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm

970-350-9811 tel
970-350-9805 fax
water@greeleygov.com

Water Conservation

970-336-4134
970-336-4168 for Water Budget
conserve@greeleygov.com

Emergencies

Water 7am-3pm 970-350-9320
Sewer 7am-3pm 970-350-9322
after hours970-616-6260

Other Numbers

billing970-350-9811 (dial 2 for billing clerk)
start or stop service970-350-9811 (dial 2 for billing clerk)
water taste or odor970-350-9324
water pressure970-350-9320
water restrictions & violations970-336-4134
utility line locates811

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