Has the Portland Water District taken any steps to reduce possible lead in the water?

Recent updates

The Portland Water District’s tap water meets the Lead and Copper Rule requirements and your water is safe to drink.

When public drinking water systems first began testing for lead in the early 1990s as a result of the then recently released EPA Lead and Copper Rule, many (including  PWD) found lead levels higher than the allowable amounts. Although Sebago Lake does not have lead in it, the Lead and Copper Rule requires water samples be taken from high-risk homes.


Maine is experiencing a drought. Is PWD affected?

Sebago Lake level is about a foot below normal for this time of year; however, there is no impact to the public water supply. Sebago Lake is the second largest lake in Maine and holds nearly a trillion gallons of water. The public water intake pipes are deep below the surface. The Steep Falls well system supplies approximately 120 customers from a well system which would be more sensitive to a prolonged drought. It is being monitored and to date there has been no impact on our ability to meet the needs of our Steep Falls customers. 10/25/2016

Why do water utilities issue boil water orders?

The Portland Water District invests millions of dollars each year to replace old water pipes and upgrade infrastructure, but unfortunately water mains still break. This presents a potential pathway for contaminants to enter the drinking water system.


How does PWD know how much water our customers use?

We measure water use in hundred cubic feet, or HCF. One HCF is equal to 748 gallons. How much water is that? An average eight-person hot tub holds only about 500 gallons, so less than one HCF. It would take about 20 full bathtubs to equal 1 HCF.


What is a cross connection?

A cross connection is a physical connection between the drinking water system and any other piping system containing a non-potable substance.

An example of a potential cross connection is a garden hose attached to an outside spigot with the end of the hose submerged in a pool or connected to a container holding a toxic chemical.

What is a backflow?

A backflow can occur when a substance flows back into the public water system as water pressure fluctuates.  This could be as a result of a water main break or hydrant usage.

How can you prevent backflows from occurring?

Backflows are prevented by installing backflow prevention assemblies onto a piping system to allow water to flow in only one direction. 

Do residential properties need backflow devices?

Yes, under the updated program, new residential construction or substantially renovated properties need to install backflow prevention devices.

Do you need to have annual testing of your backflow device?

Commercial devices are required to be tested annually and results filed with the Portland Water District. A list of certified backflow inspectors can be found on the PWD web site.  Non-testable backflow devices do not need to be tested. 

What are some examples of hazards at my home that could contaminate the drinking water system?

Irrigation systems, hose bibs, boilers, radiant heat systems, wells, docks, ponds, fountains, pressure boosting systems, pools, spas, graywater systems, rain water collection systems, reclaimed water, and solar heating systems are just a few examples of hazards that could contaminate the drinking water system.