Indiana American Water takes great measures to reduce the potential for lead to leach from your pipes into drinking water. We perform regular testing of treated water to ensure the water exiting our treatment facilities is not contaminated with lead. We also conduct tests in our distribution system in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory requirements and take steps to reduce the potential of lead leaching from service lines and household pipes into the water by managing pH levels in the water leaving our treatment facilities and adding corrosion inhibitors where needed.
Because service lines, household pipes, solder and other plumbing fixtures can contribute significantly to lead and copper levels in tap water, we also work with customers to monitor for lead and copper in their homes. These samples are collected on a routine basis at homes that are considered vulnerable based on when they were constructed and the materials used. We do this monitoring according to the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule and use the results to confirm that our corrosion control strategy is operating as intended.
Below, learn about the risk factors that may cause lead in your drinking water, and how to minimize your exposure to lead contamination.
Risk Factors for Lead in Drinking Water
- Lead in your plumbing system. If your home’s plumbing system utilizes lead piping or solder, it is possible that lead could leach into your home’s water supply. If your home was constructed before 1930 and contains the original plumbing system, it is more likely that lead components may have been used. If your home was built before January 1986, lead solder may have been used to connect plumbing joints.
- Electrical grounding connected to the plumbing system. When a home’s grounding wires are connected to plumbing, it can elevate the risk of lead exposure as well as corrosion to pipes.
- Home treatment devices. Certain home treatment devices, such as water softeners, might increase lead levels in your water. Always consult the device manufacturer for information on potential impacts to your drinking water or household plumbing.
Minimizing Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water
Lead in drinking water does not produce a taste or smell, nor is it visible. Testing by a certified laboratory will tell you if lead exists in your home’s water and how much lead there is.
There are steps you can take to minimize your family’s exposure to lead contamination in drinking water.
- Flush your taps. If your taps have not been used for six or more hours, flush your taps before using or consuming water. Run your cool water tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before filling a glass to drink or using water for cooking. Instead of wasting the flushed water down the drain, catch it and use it to water your houseplants or garden!
- Use cold water. Water from your hot water tap has the potential to contain more lead than cold water. If you need hot water for a beverage or cooking, use cold water from the tap and heat water on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Examine your plumbing. Lead pipes are a dull gray color and scratch easily, revealing a shiny surface. The best way to know what kind of plumbing and service lines you have in your home is to hire a licensed plumber. Remove any existing loose lead solder and debris from your piping and use only lead-free materials when making repairs to your pipes. If your home is new or your pipes have recently been replaced, take the strainers off each faucet and flush the taps for 3 to 5 minutes each.
- Go lead-free. Whenever replacing plumbing components in your home, look for lead-free products.
- Clean aerators. Make it part of your regular home maintenance routine to take aerators off each faucet and clean them to remove debris.
IAW Is Committed to Safe Drinking Water
Indiana American Water is committed to delivering clean, healthy water to your home. We regularly test water for lead to ensure you are protected from exposure to lead at home, and utilize corrosion inhibitors to lower your risk of exposure to lead contamination.
Indiana American Water took a leadership role in working with Indiana legislators to develop and pass Indiana House Enrolled Act No. 1519, which was signed into law in April 2017 and went into effect on July 1, 2017. This legislation enabled utilities to petition the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to approve their lead service line replacement plans and, consequently, to recover the associated costs through customer rates.
Indiana American Water’s lead service line replacement plan, the first such plan filed in the state, was approved in July 2018, and involves eventually replacing all lead service lines in service from the distribution main to the residence/building where they have been identified in the company’s service areas.
The ability to perform full-service line replacements, which involves both the utility and customer-owned portion of lead service lines, is key to reducing lead in drinking water since several studies have shown that partial service line replacements may in fact potentially do more harm than good. When a utility is replacing their portion of a lead service line for any reason, and the customer does not replace that portion of the line that they own, the situation is called a “partial lead service line replacement.”
The Lead Service Line Replacement Plan represents a considerable investment in Indiana American Water customers across the state. The investment made by a large, statewide utility like Indiana American Water has the potential to drastically reduce the associated costs for customers because of the company’s economies of scale and purchasing power. The cost savings for customers is expected to be approximately 30% less than if they were to replace the lines on their own.
Indiana American Water has already invested nearly $82 million to replace or retire nearly half of the estimated 55,000 lead service lines in its service areas around the state.
If you have questions about lead in tap water, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline site. You can also visit us online to learn more at https://amwater.com/inaw/water-quality/lead-and-drinking-water.