How Does Fort Atkinson Monitor Lead in the Water System?
Since 1999, the City has been testing lead from the faucets of homes known to be at risk. Sampling occurs every 3 years in 30 homes across the City.
180 samples have been collected since 1999. Only 6 have been above the EPA’s action level of 15 micrograms/liter.
The City tests its water annually for a number of constituents and provides those results in a report you can view here.
What are Sources of Lead in Fort Atkinson's Drinking Water?
#1 - Fort Atkinson’s Water Distribution Network
- The City is responsible for everything carrying water to your home up until the shut-off on the service line, typically located between the sidewalk and curb.
- MAINS are larger pipes that carry water throughout the City. All main pipes are made of iron or plastic. Pipe installed before 1930 included joints between pipe sections that were packed with lead containing solder.
- SERVICE LINES are pipes that connect to the MAIN and carry water to your home (see Figure 1). In our community, some of the pipes that connect older homes (before 1940) to the water main are made from lead. Lead may compose all or just a portion of the line. The Fort Atkinson Water Utility has a map of known lead service lines, and lines that are suspected to be lead services (listed as “UNKNOWN”). You can view the map here. We maintain records of initial service line construction materials, but these records may not reflect repairs or replacements made after the original service lines were installed.
- FITTINGS – shut-off valves, connectors etc. used in the system before 2014 contain traces of lead. All fittings since 2014 are certified lead free.
#2 – Your Home’s Water Distribution Network
- The homeowner is responsible for everything from the shut-off on the service line, typically located between the sidewalk and curb, to the fixtures that supply water in your home.
- WATER PIPES carry water throughout your home. Most pipes are made of copper, steel or plastic but some older homes may have pipes made of lead. Many homes have pipes of several types.
- FITTINGS – valves, couplers, bends and “T”s are all called fittings. Prior to 1986, the solder commonly used to join fittings to copper pipe was composed of lead. Lead free solder has been in place since 1986. Shutoff valves, if composed of metal (brass is common) may contain lead if purchased prior to 2014.
- FIXTURES - includes everything that controls water to a faucet, hose, or shower. Fixtures purchased before 2014 contain lead. Many pre-2014 fixtures may still be in circulation. Look for the certification marks indicating “Lead Free” or “NSF372 Compliant.” http://www.nsf.org/newsroom_pdf/Lead_free_certification_marks.pdf
How Does Lead get in the Water?
Lead will corrode into water when in direct contact. The longer water is stagnant, the more contact time there is for this process to occur. When we test for lead, we test early in the morning, after the water in your home has been stagnant overnight.
Lead must be in direct contact with the water for this process to occur. Fort Atkinson has naturally hard water which tends to create a mineral scale deposit on everything the water comes in contact with. This deposit forms a protective barrier between any lead / water interaction and likely contributes to our overall low lead levels.
How Can I Assess My Exposure Risk to Lead in My Drinking Water?
Assess the age of your home or plumbing improvements to gage your risk:
YEAR CONSTRUCTED AND POTENTIAL LEAD SOURCES
Pre - 1940
lead service, lead water lines, lead solder, lead fixtures, lead fittings
1940 - 1986
lead solder, lead fixtures, lead fittings
1986 - 2014
lead fixtures, lead fittings
2014 - Present
Minimal – but check for “lead free” on all fixtures
Test your Water – the following provide water testing service
Abendroth Water Conditioning 920-563-2507
CT Laboratories 1-608-356-2760
Public Health Madison-Dane County Laboratory 1-608-266-4821
Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene 1-800-442-4618
Look for Information from your Fort Atkinson Water Utility - When planned or emergency work may result in increased risk of exposure to lead at the tap, we will notify you by knocking on your door or leaving a door hanger with further information.
How Can I Protect Against Lead in My Drinking Water?
Water Softeners – modern water softeners that use Ionic exchange medias have the ability to reduce or remove lead and other heavy metals from your water. IMPORTANT to note, adding a water softener to a hard water system could remove the protective deposit that has formed inside copper pipes and fixtures. Call a water treatment professional to assess the age and capability of your water treatment products to determine the best course of action.
Run your Faucet – in the morning, allow the tap to run for 5 minutes. This clears the entire line out to the main of water that may have had a lengthy contact period with lead.
Water Filters – There are various types of water filters that will remove or reduce lead from your water. These can be in the form or POE (whole house) or POU (point of use single location). Make sure that the systems you purchase are by ANSI approved agency like WQA, NSF,UL or another agency.