Project #4693

Lead Service Line Identification Techniques

Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Mr. Jonathan Cuppett
American Water
Lead & Copper
Distribution System Management
Water Quality


Developing an accurate inventory of lead service lines (LSLs) is a challenge facing many water utilities. The water sector has relied on indirect methods that use historical records, such as tap cards, to develop inventories of customer locations thought to have LSLs. However, in some instances, this approach has produced low accuracy rates. Without an accurate inventory of LSLs, the exploratory excavation costs can become cost-prohibitive.This project reviewed the literature and industry practices to identify detection technologies that are fast, portable, economical, user-friendly, minimally invasive, and sufficiently sensitive to identify lead pipes buried in soils of various types. Additionally, indirect screening techniques used by utilities to gather information on the likely presence of LSLs were explored and discussed using case studies to substantiate the usefulness of promising approaches. Published in 2020.