The Division of Public Health (DPH) is announced today, Thursday, August 30, 2018, that the Lewes Board of Public Works (BPW) has issued a drinking water notice to customers after tests showed elevated levels of lead in the water. DPH received notification late last week from BPW that drinking water samples collected in August showed an exceedance of the EPA Action Level for lead. Lab analysis found that the 90th percentile result of 26.5 ug/L exceeded the EPA Action Level of 15 ug/L. Sampling consisted of 10 samples collected in different parts of the BPW service area with results ranging from non-detect to 38.4 ug/L.
DPH is actively working with the Lewes BPW to conduct additional sampling and gather information to help define the scope and cause of the issue. Both agencies believe the presence of lead is likely associated with lead service pipes serving individual homes and buildings, or with plumbing components (pipe, fixtures, solder, etc.) within them that contain lead. The Lewes BPW is working to identify the impacted areas, but the differences in housing age, construction materials and other factors will make it difficult to identify all the impacted structures.
Residents who are concerned that their plumbing may contain lead should have their water tested, as testing is the only way to know definitively if lead is present. The required test kits are available at private laboratories; homeowners should ensure testing takes place through an EPA-drinking-water-certified laboratory. To find one, call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visit www.epa.gov/safewater/labs.
In addition to posting the public notice on its website, BPW is mailing the notice to customers’ homes and working with the City of Lewes to email the information to residents as well. BPW will also test water in schools prior to opening next week, as well as Beebe Healthcare and a long-term care facility served by the utility’s system. Posting of public notices after a lead level exceedance is required by state law. DPH is working with BPW to resolve the issue and will conduct more frequent monitoring of the water system.
The Following is the Notice Release by the BPW
PUBLIC EDUCATION NOTICE
Important Information about Lead in Your Drinking Water
Public Water System Name: Lewes Board of Public Works
PWS ID#: DE0000602
Address: 107 Franklin Avenue, Lewes, DE 19958
Lewes Board of Public Works found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some buildings.
We were on triennial monitoring for lead testing and collected samples for testing on August 9,
2018. We will begin sampling for lead every six (6) months to closely monitor the lead levels in
Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and children. Read this
information closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.
What Are The Health Effects of Lead?
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or
other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the
production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk to
lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the
effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high
blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in
the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the
mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.
What Are the Sources of Lead?
The primary sources of lead exposure for most children are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated
dust, and lead-contaminated residential soil. Lead is found in some toys, some
playground equipment, some children’s metal jewelry, and some traditional pottery. The EPA
estimates that 10 to 20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking
water. Lead is rarely found in source water, however, it enters tap water through corrosion of
plumbing materials. Homes built before 1988 are more likely to have lead pipes or lead solder;
however, new homes are also at risk. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated
brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially
hot water. Exposure to lead is a significant health concern, especially for young children and
infants whose growing bodies tend to absorb more lead than the average adult. Even if your
home’s drinking water lead levels were below the action level, parents should ask their health
care providers about testing children for high levels of lead in the blood if they are concerned
about lead exposure.
What Can I Do To Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water?
Run your water to flush out lead. If water hasn’t been used for several hours, run
water for 15-30 seconds to flush lead from interior plumbing or until it becomes cold
or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking.
Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or
drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not
use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
Look for alternative sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider
purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is
approved to reduce lead.
Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Brass faucets, fittings,
and valves may contribute lead to drinking water. Lead solder was commonly used to
join copper pipes prior to 1988; it appears dull gray and becomes shiny when
scratched with a key. A licensed plumber will be able to help with lead solder
identification, and if needed, replacement.
Remove debris from plumbing materials. Remove the faucet strainers from all
taps and run the water for 3-5 minutes. Repeat this action periodically to flush out
any debris that has accumulated over time.
Get your child tested. (If applicable, i.e., facilities that are schools or child care
centers). Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how
you can get your child tested for lead, if you are concerned about exposure.
Please call us at (302) 645-6228 for more information. For more information on reducing lead
exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s website at
www.epa.gov/lead, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your
health care provider.
Please share this information with all other people who drink the water, especially those who
may not have received this notice directly. You can do this by posting this notice in a public
place or by distributing copies by hand or by mail.
This notice is being sent to you by Lewes Board of Public Works.