Utility responds to questions about lead service lines
For immediate release, February 8, 2016, Omaha, Neb.- M.U.D. water customers can be confident in the quality of their drinking water, which meets or exceeds all federal and state standards for safe drinking water.
The most accurate source of water quality information is the annual Consumer Confidence Report (Water Quality Report) posted on the District’s website at: http://www.mudomaha.com/about-us/our-services/water The report is available in English and Spanish.
People who want a hard copy of the report may call Customer Service at 402.554.6666 or email the request to email@example.com with their name and mailing address.
M.U.D. water meets or exceeds all Safe Drinking Water standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The annual water quality report also is reviewed by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and includes explanations of test results. The report refers to finished water (water that is treated at our plants) and delivered to customers' taps.
Sources of M.U.D. tap water include the Missouri River, well fields along the Platte River and the Dakota sandstone aquifer. Water is pumped from intakes and wells maintained by the District. We soften, clarify, filter and disinfect the water to standards for safe drinking water.
With the recent national media stories on lead in drinking water, the District has received questions about lead service lines and water quality in general, which are addressed here:
Is there lead in M.U.D.’s water? No, we conduct monthly tests for lead and it is not detected in source (raw) water, in the finished water from the District’s water treatment plants, or in the distribution system (water mains).
M.U.D. produces stable, non-corrosive water. The water customers receive is treated so that it is not corrosive to plumbing. The minerals in the water form a coating of material on the plumbing which acts as a protective barrier to inhibit the water from picking up the metals from the pipes and faucets.
Lead is mainly a localized customer issue, which means some customers may own a lead service line or have plumbing that includes lead solder.
Lead service lines may be found in areas of Omaha and other communities on our system in homes built prior to the 1950s.
How do I find out if I have a lead service line? The pipe that connects your household plumbing to the water main in the street is called a service line, which you own. M.U.D. customers can call Customer Service at 402-554-6666 to find out what the District’s records indicate about the service line material, or you can hire a licensed plumber to inspect the service line.
If I do own a lead service line, what can I do to reduce lead exposure? M.U.D.’s water treatment is designed to not leach lead and copper, however there are steps you can take to further reduce the chance of exposure to lead.
Only use water from the cold tap for cooking and drinking. If the tap has not been used in more than a half hour, then flush water through the faucet for 30 seconds up to two minutes before using it.
Also, remove and clean the faucet aerators (also called screens) on a regular basis. To clean the faucet screen of debris:
- Unscrew the screen.
- Separate the individual parts.
- Remove any sediment (mineral or rust build up) on the screen and other parts. If necessary, soak the parts in white vinegar for a few minutes and scrub with a brush.
- Reassemble the screen parts and re-attach to the faucet.
Do I need a water filter? Use of a supplemental filter is a personal preference however it can also be harmful if not properly maintained. In selecting a filter, determine what substance(s) is/are to be removed and look for a filter that has a NSF/UL certification to remove it. Information on plumbing fixtures and in-home filters is also available from the National Sanitation Foundation at 1-800-NSF-MARK or www.nsf.org.
Can I get my water tested for lead? Yes. Customers who have partial or whole lead service lines (or the composition is unknown) installed before 1950 can request M.U.D. to test for lead. To request a test, call Customer Service at 402.554.6666. M.U.D.’s Water Quality Lab conducts the tests and submits results to the DHHS. For a list of other government and commercial water testing laboratories in Nebraska: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g1614.pdf
Does the federal government monitor water for lead? Yes. In 1991, the EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water, known as the Lead and Copper Rule. The EPA revised the regulation in 2000 and 2007.
Congress has also set limits on the amount of lead that can be used in plumbing products. These requirements were first enacted in 1986 and then reduced to lower levels in 2011.
DHHS performs all of the testing for M.U.D.’s compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule. M.U.D.’s role is to deliver the sample kits to the customer, collect them and send them to DHHS for testing.
The EPA and DHHS require M.U.D. to sample for lead and copper every three years. The next round of lead and copper testing is scheduled for June through September of 2016.
In addition, M.U.D. entered an agreement with Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (OHKA) to test the drinking water in homes where there is a concern for lead. M.U.D. and OHKA will test homes with partial or whole lead services as well as those with services of unknown material built before 1960.
I saw a story that said Omaha’s water ranks among the worst in the nation. Is this true? No, that is an inaccurate old story circulating on the internet and social media for the last several years. The data used in that report included results taken from raw water samples that were never treated in our treatment facilities or distributed to customers. M.U.D. water meets all state and federal standards for safe drinking water.
Where can I get more information? You can visit M.U.D.’s website at www.mudomaha.com/water for the annual water quality report and other resources. If you have more questions about drinking water in general, call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800.426.4791 or go to their website: http://water.epa.gov/drink/.
M.U.D. provides safe, reliable, and cost-effective natural gas and water services to our community, with a service area that reaches approximately 600,000 people. We serve safe drinking water to more than 208,000 homes and businesses in the metropolitan Omaha area and maintain nearly 27,000 hydrants for fire protection. As the fifth largest public gas utility in the United States, we also serve natural gas to more than 224,000 homes and businesses. We are a public utility and proud to be customer-owned. The District is governed by a board of seven directors, elected by our customer-owners. Visit www.mudomaha.com for the latest alerts and information.