How Much Lead Do Your Customers Ingest from Your Water Every Day?

Dec 6, 2021

Compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) for water utilities is based on the amount of lead in a one-liter sample that is drawn from a tap that has been stagnant for at least six hours. This one-liter stagnant sample or “first draw” has been the standard for over 30 years. In the revised LCR, this standard may be replaced by a five-liter sample, where the first liter is tested for copper and the fifth for lead.

But is either of these samples representative of the water that is consumed by your customers? Customers often run the water before drinking it and rarely drink an entire liter at a time, and the amount of lead in the actual ingested sample varies considerably based on how long the water is exposed to the lead service lines or premise plumbing.

WRF is seeking utilities to provide water samples from homes with lead service lines or lead solder, or homes that have elevated lead levels from fixtures.

Utility volunteers will be required to provide a one-liter first draw sample and 100 mL of water every time a customer uses the tap for drinking until a one-liter bottle is full. Sample bottles, instructions, and technical support will be provided. Sample analysis will be coordinated with the research team. This effort is being conducted as part of project 4965, Development of a Community-Based Lead Risk and Mitigation Model. Volunteer utilities can provide samples from one home or as many as they choose.

The data collected will help inform how utilities can best prioritize their mitigation efforts to lower lead levels in a home. Additional immediate benefits for participating utilities are a better understanding of their customers’ exposure and a sampling method to provide to residents who are interested in their exposure.

Please contact Jonathan Cuppett, WRF Research Program Manager, for further information.