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In the News: Lessons From the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cedar Falls Utilities is paying close attention to events in Flint, Michigan that have compromised the safety of the city’s drinking water. Those of us involved in managing, treating and delivering water share a solemn obligation to protect public health. Flint underscores that our first job is to protect the families we serve.

According to news reports, when Flint switched its water supply source it did not take the necessary steps to manage water chemistry. Water from Flint’s new source was corrosive, causing lead to leach from service lines and home plumbing into the water drawn from household taps.

In Cedar Falls, the service lines between water mains and homes generally do not contain lead. Our water supply is drawn from deep wells, as it has been for decades, so there’s been no change in our water source. Our municipal water is not corrosive. In short, the factors that caused Flint’s crisis are not present here.

Our Water Utility follows EPA and Iowa DNR lead and copper testing criteria. We observe the letter of the law and embrace the spirit of it.

Property owners are responsible for services lines from the water main to their homes. Lead service lines are not common in Cedar Falls. Various plumbing components inside homes may contain lead. Below are precautions you can take to prevent lead contamination from sources inside your home.

Lead solder was commonly used in the past to connect copper pipe and pipe fittings. Existing solder is typically covered over with a film or deposit from the water. If you do any work on your interior copper water lines do not use old solder that may contain lead.

Piping in your home may contain lead or lead-solder connections. If water sits for an extended period in your pipes, it may pick up lead. Be sure you flush out the water lines after a period of stagnation in order to get fresh water. Avoid consuming water from the hot water tap.

Older brass faucets contain varying amounts of lead in the metal. New faucets and equipment are required to be lead free. Cedar Falls water is not corrosive, so existing fittings should not be a problem. But if you change fixtures or fittings be sure to buy new rather than re-using old equipment that may contain lead.

After you install new fixtures or modify pipes, be sure to flush your water lines with fresh water.

Cedar Falls Utilities works to provide top quality water to every tap. If you have additional questions please call our water department at (319) 268-5330