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Corrosion Control, Lead & Copper

Running The Tap Can Reduce Traces Of Minerals, Stale Tastes And Odors

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a Lead and Copper Rule requiring water systems to study their water, reduce corrosion of home plumbing and reduce the amount of lead and copper people ingest. Studies found that ingesting lead or copper can cause health problems, especially in children. Exposure to lead and copper often comes from home plumbing.

To comply with this regulation, we began taking samples and testing water from more than 100 homes in 1992. Test results showed lead and copper levels were near the level at which a water system must take action to reduce corrosion, even though this level might not be high enough to cause harm.

We conducted a Corrosion Control Optimization Study  and found we needed to add a chemical, like sodium hydroxide, which raises the pH of our water from its natural 7.0 to a less corrosive 7.5, to help control lead and copper corrosion. We built a corrosion control plant to accomplish this and operations began in the spring of 1997.

Another round of water samples were taken and tested in October 1997. Test results showed we reduced the levels of lead and copper in our water to half of previous levels.

Today, we continue monitoring pH and lead and copper levels to help prevent lead and copper corrosion.

Learn more about how Tacoma Water helps prevent lead from getting into drinking water.

Lead & Copper

If you live in a home with copper or galvanized plumbing and have not used the water from your tap for more than five or six hours, follow the steps below.

Eliminate zinc, rust and traces of lead by:

  • Running the tap for a short period of time before drawing and using the water.
  • Flushing the cold water tap from your kitchen for at least 15 to 30 seconds before drawing water for drinking or cooking.

Reduce stale water tastes and odors by:

  • Turning on all unused water taps in your home, one at a time, once a month, and let them run for about 15 seconds.

Metals such as lead and copper dissolve more readily in hot water, therefore:

  • Do not use hot tap water for cooking or drinking.
  • If you have an instant hot water machine, run a little hot water before using any to clear out standing water.
  • If your refrigerator has an automatic icemaker, empty it and allow it to refill regularly to clear out standing water.