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Replacing lead goosenecks

In 2016, Tacoma Water identified that about 1,200 short pieces of lead pipe may exist in the water system. Called lead goosenecks, the pipes connect the water main to a pipe that leads to the water meter at customers’ homes. 

Tacoma Water generally has very little lead pipe in its system, and it employs effective corrosion control of its water sources to reduce the amount of lead in the water to levels well below EPA standards. Still, the utility is committed to removing all lead goosenecks from the water system because it’s the right thing to do. This is consistent with a national and state movement to eliminate pure lead components from utility infrastructure. Our highest priority is providing clean and reliable water. 

Find and Replace

Some of Tacoma’s water system is old - so old that installation of some service connections weren’t even recorded at the time, which presents a challenge in finding the lead goosenecks.

Tacoma Water is digging for additional records and digging for actual pipe in the street to verify the type of pipe material. If we find a lead gooseneck, we’ll replace the service line and gooseneck with a new pipe made of copper. This work has already started and is expected to be complete by 2021. 

When it makes sense, we’ll coordinate with other agencies to ensure the work coincides with other projects that require digging up the streets. 

What You Can Do

If you ever want to have your water tested for lead, you can do it for free by ordering a kit at We’ll send you a kit to collect the water. You send it back to Tacoma Water (at no postage cost to you) and we’ll send it to a lab for testing. 

Tacoma Water recommends people flush their pipes – running the water for a couple of minutes – after the water is shut off at the meter. It’s also a good idea to flush pipes after prolonged periods without use, like after a vacation. 

Who Owns What?

Tacoma Water owns the pipe from the water main to the water meter, so when the utility replaces a service, it’s done up to the water meter. The pipe from the meter to the home is owned by the property owner. 

What does that mean for Tacoma Water customers? Since the pipes on the homeowner’s side are usually the same age as the services the utility replaces, they may not be in great condition. As a result, Tacoma Water recommends that the pipe be inspected by a plumbing professional if you’re concerned about its condition.
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