The city of Alexandria — The City of Alexandria is working to educate residents on the dangers of possible lead contamination in drinking water caused by plumbing systems in older houses that use copper pipes with lead solder or other plumbing components that used high-lead materials.
The educational push is in response to the Louisiana Department of Health’s recent finding of four confirmed cases of elevated levels of lead in water samples taken by residents in Alexandria homes as part of a routine testing process.
Alexandria Utility Systems Director Michael Marcotte explained the elevated lead levels were only found in isolated homes containing either copper pipes with lead solder installed between 1982 and 1988 or lead pipes. “The City of Alexandria has no lead mains or service lines and the elevated lead levels found were not within the City of Alexandria’s water distribution system,” Marcotte said.
The city’s water system is regularly tested for lead as well as other containments. As part of the most recent routine lead testing program by the Department of Health, residents from 30 houses submitted water samples for testing. The samples were collected and submitted by the residents, and City of Alexandria employees were not involved in the collection or testing process. Of those 30 samples, four were confirmed to have elevated levels of lead.
“We carefully monitor the safety of our water system and we do everything we can to ensure we are in full compliance with all safety guidelines,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. “We have a full-time, accredited laboratory for testing that was just reaccredited in January. We monitor our system daily and we do regular testing to ensure the highest water quality. We test for chlorine levels, bacteriological agents, lead, copper, system corrosion levels. And we test for Naegleria fowleri, more commonly known as the brain-eating amoeba. We are committed to being proactive to ensure the water we supply to our customers is safe when it gets to their house.”
Marcotte added that in January of 2011 the City of Alexandria Water Department incorporated corrosion control improvements to the water system which were designed to reduce the leaching of lead from pipes and solder found in older homes. “We do everything we can to ensure that the drinking water we supply to residents is safe. But we can only control our delivery system. If a house or business has lead pipes or copper pipes with lead solder there is the possibility of getting lead contamination from that on-site plumbing,” Marcotte said.
Residents in homes constructed between 1982 and 1988, which are homes most likely constructed with materials containing a high lead content, can receive information about having their water tested by contacting the City of Alexandria Water Department at 318-441-6216.
As part of the educational campaign, all City of Alexandria water customers will receive a notice explaining the dangers of lead in water and tips to minimize possible exposure. The notice will include federally-mandated information regarding lead contamination in water as well as details of the local findings. There will also be a notice printed on the water bills. In addition, the city will have educational brochures available with information about the dangers of lead and steps to reduce potential exposure as well as information on the city’s website at www.cityofalexandriala.com.
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. The most common sources of lead exposure come from paint, dust, soil, and the corrosion of household plumbing systems. Additional information can be found online at the Environmental Protection Agency’s website www.epa.gov/lead or from your health care provider.