The water produced at Cheyenne’s water treatment plant is lead free. However, lead can still enter the water from pipes and fixtures (such as faucets) in buildings.
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about lead in water.
Where does lead in water come from?
The most common sources of lead include:
- Lead water service lines. The water service line is the water line that connects the building to the water mains (often located under streets.) Buildings constructed before 1951 are more likely to have lead service lines.
- Copper pipes with lead solder. Solder is the greyish metal that connects pieces of copper pipe together. Using lead solder was a common practice in buildings constructed before 1987.
- Brass faucets and valves. Brass fixtures installed before 2014 may have also had lead in them.
What are the health effects of lead in drinking water?
Even low levels of lead in children, pregnant women and adults can have harmful health effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has great information on lead and drinking water. Please visit www.epa.gov.
What is the BOPU doing to prevent lead in water?
Water treatment operators monitor Cheyenne’s drinking water 24 hours a day, every day. Among the water quality factors that they monitor is the corrosivity of the water. To keep the water from dissolving metals such as lead from pipes, operators adjust the acidity of Cheyenne’s water and blend the water with ground water to add alkalinity.
Water with a pH below 7.0 is acidic and is more likely to dissolve metals from pipes or fixtures. That is why water treatment operators adjust Cheyenne’s water so the water pH is between 7.4 and 7.6.
Operators also add alkalinity to water by blending treated water with water from wells. Water from wells will have more minerals. These minerals provide alkalinity to the water. Alkalinity provides a buffer that prevents pH changes in water as it is delivered to customers.
Occasionally, distribution system operators or construction companies working for the BOPU may encounter lead service lines. In Cheyenne, lead service lines are occasionally found between the water main and the curb stop (the valve that shuts off water to a building.) When this happens, distribution operators and the construction companies remove and replace the service line, often within days of discovering it.