PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
SAFE DRINKING WATER
From: Spotsylvania County Department of Utilities
600 Hudgins Road
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22408-4147
Phone: (540) 898-2053 ext. 0
March 22, 2004
With the rising media attention concerning lead levels in drinking water within Washington D.C. and Arlington
County, we want to take this opportunity to assure you of the safety of Spotsylvania County's public drinking water.
Federal law has required localities - including Spotsylvania County - to collect water samples for lead for many
years. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires us to collect a series of thirty lead sam-
ples every three years from customers' homes. If the results from more than ten percent of the samples exceed the
EPA action limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb), then we would have to take additional steps to notify the public and
find ways to reduce our consumer's exposure to lead in the water.
Our most recent sampling occurred in July 2003 when, in accordance with EPA regulations, 30 homes served by the
County's water system were tested. Of those 30 samples, 27 (90%) fell under the action limit for lead. The results of
the tests we performed demonstrate that, according to the EPA regulations, our tap water is safe.
In Washington D.C.'s water system, officials estimate that almost 23,000 of the water service lines to homes are actu-
ally made of lead. Our system is new enough to be free of lead service lines. The water we deliver from our treat-
ment plants and through our distribution system does not contain detectable levels of lead. But because some of the
brass and bronze fittings in the connections in the water system and in the household plumbing may contain lead and
because lead solder was still allowable for making pipe joints until 1986, lead can still be dissolved into tap water.
If water sits in these brass and bronze fittings and joints for several hours, lead can leach into the water. Note that
this can happen regardless of whether the water in question is coming from the public water system or from a pri-
vate well for the potential sources of the lead are the plumbing, fixtures and solder within the pipe itself. In such cir-
cumstances, the water first drawn from the fixture may contain a measurable amount of lead, but the lead amount
will be reduced if you let your faucet run 60-90 seconds before use.
Consuming lead can cause a range of adverse health effects. Pregnant women and infants are more likely to be
impacted if lead levels are high in their drinking water. There are many ways you can minimize your exposure to
lead that may leach into your water from your plumbing system. You will find some recommendations in the pages
that follow, as well as answers to many other questions you may have.
We care about the community's health and we desire to respond to any further questions or concerns our residents
may have as they pertain to safe drinking water. Consequently, two educational workshops will be offered to any-
one interested in attending. Meeting details are as follows:
Location: Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors' Chambers
Date: March 30, 2004 Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors' Chambers
Date: March 31, 2004 Time: 10:00 a.m.
In the interim, should you have any questions regarding this information or require further assistance, please do not
hesitate to contact the Department of Utilities at (540) 898-2053, ext. 0.
Thomas M. Slaydon, P.E.
Director of Utilities
How Does Lead Get into Drinking Water?
Typically, the source of lead in your home's water is most likely pipe or solder in your home's own plumbing. Water
treated at our treatment plants has no detectable lead. The most common cause is corrosion, a reaction between the
water and lead solder, or lead-containing brass fittings. Dissolved oxygen, low pH (acidity) and low mineral content
in water are common causes of corrosion.
If you live in a home or work in a building that was constructed prior to 1986, which has copper water pipes with
lead based solder joints, you should be aware that traces of lead might be present in your water. In 1986, installation
of copper pipes with lead solder became illegal. You may notify the Virginia Department of Health, Office of
Drinking Water, at (804) 864-7500 to obtain more information.
What are the Health Effects of Lead in Drinking Water?
Lead may cause a range of adverse health effects. Pregnant women and infants are more likely to be impacted if lead
levels are high in their drinking water. For infants and children, exposure to high levels of lead can result in delays
in physical or mental development. For adults, it can result in kidney problems or high blood pressure. Although the
main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, EPA estimates that 10 to 20 percent of
human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water.
What Should You Do?
Listed below are some measures you may wish to consider toward minimizing lead in your water.
Cook only with cold water. Do not cook with or drink hot water from the tap.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises flushing the faucet(s) for 60-90 seconds if the water
supply has been idle for 6 hours or more.
If you are concerned about possible lead solder in your home's pipes, a plumber can determine for you
whether your solder contains lead.
Do not use cooking utensils/containers that contain lead (e.g., ceramic or pewter).
Have a licensed electrician check your wiring to determine if grounding wires from the electrical system are
attached to your water pipes. Grounding to metal pipes can cause corrosion. DO NOT attempt to change
the wiring yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
If you live in a newly constructed home or in a home where the plumbing has recently been replaced,
remove loose lead solder and debris from plumbing. You can do so by removing the faucet strainers from
all taps and then run the water for 3 to 5 minutes. Thereafter, periodically remove the strainers and flush
out any debris that has accumulated over time.
If your home is supplied by a well and you have concerns, consult a water well contractor.
How Can I tell if My Water contains too Much Lead?
If you are concerned about lead in your water, you should have your water tested by a certified laboratory. Since you
cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way to tell whether or not there are harm-
ful quantities of lead in your drinking water. You should be particularly concerned if you see signs of corrosion (rust-
colored water, stained dishes, green stains on water fixtures or laundry, etc.) and/or if your non-plastic plumbing is
less than five years old.
How Can I get My Water Tested?
The County does not routinely test individual homes and cannot recommend specific laboratories to test your drink-
ing water. However, a copy of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Certified Laboratories can be obtained through their
website (http://www.vdh.state.va.us/dw/files/lablist.pdf), the County's website (http://www.spotsylvania.va.us/
departments/utilities) or by calling the Utilities Department directly. Depending on how many contaminants you
test for, a water quality test can cost from $15 to hundreds of dollars.
What if I Have Lead in My Water?
If a water test indicates that the drinking water from your tap contains lead in excess of 15 ppb after flushing, then
you may wish to consider the following:
Purchasing or leasing a home water treatment device. If you choose to use a filter, follow these three rules:
1) choose one designed for the specific treatment desired (e.g., chlorine, lead or cryptosporidium),
2) make sure the filter is approved by the National Sanitation Foundation, and
3) maintain the filter as directed.
Purchasing bottled water for drinking and cooking.
Have Questions or Concerns?
If you have specific concerns or need additional information after reading this material, you may contact or refer to
The County's Utilities Department at (540) 898-2053, ext. 0 or firstname.lastname@example.org, for informa-
tion about your water system or to obtain a list of local laboratories certified by the Virginia Division of
Consolidated Laboratory Services.
Rappahannock Area Health District at (540) 899-4797 for information on health effects of lead.
Your personal or family physician.
EPA's Website (http://www.epa.gov)
National Center for Environmental Health (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/spotLights/leadinwater.htm)
LeadSafe Virginia (http://www.vahealth.org/Leadsafe)