Is there lead in my water?

lead sample

Providing safe drinking water is a top priority at the Portland Water District, and an important part of that is reducing lead to the lowest levels possible.

While the tap water is lead-free when it leaves the Sebago Lake Water Treatment Facility, as it travels through the water system, lead could be dissolved into the water from pipes and internal plumbing fixtures and systems. 

PWD has been in full compliance with the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule since it was promulgated, including implementing corrosion control treatment at the Sebago Lake Water Treatment Facility and monitoring and reporting lead results. While the treatment has been very successful, it is possible that some homes in our system may have measurable lead in their water. 

Inspections of piping materials carried out in the early 1990s indicated that the Portland Water District has no lead service lines in its system. However, recently revised regulations require the Portland Water District to reexamine its system to reassess all possible sources of lead, including that portion of the service line owned by the customer. More information on this effort will be made available in the coming months.

Homeowners can reduce lead exposure from tap water

There are a number of steps homeowners can take to reduce their possible lead exposure. 

  • Regardless of where you live, when your home was built, or your source of drinking water, you should always use the cold-water-tap when drawing water for cooking or drinking. (Hot water can dissolve more metal from pipes than cold.)
  • To be sure the water you drink is low in lead, simply run the water for a short time (until it is cold) before using it for making baby formula, cooking or drinking. Running the water flushes your pipes and draws fresh water directly from the main. 
  • It is also a good idea to remove and clean the faucet aerator periodically.

 

Where is Lead Found?

It is estimated that 10% of lead exposure can come from water. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes. Much of our exposure comes from human activities including the use of fossil fuels including past use of leaded gasoline, some types of industrial facilities and past use of lead-based paint in homes. Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes, including paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition and cosmetics.

AWWA: Together, Let's Get the Lead Out

More information about the Lead and Copper Rule

 

In 2021, EPA announced new Lead and Copper regulations that aim to further eliminate sources of lead in water and require testing in schools.

Lead and Copper Regulation Revisions

Guidance for Schools

Lead reduction in Greater Portland 

 

With the passage of LD 153 (An Act to Strengthen Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water), the Maine Legislature has mandated that all schools in Maine test their drinking water for the presence of lead. The State of Maine Drinking Water Program is coordinating the effort, which will run October 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022

State of Maine School Testing Program

 

Corrosion Control Treatment for Lead