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Actions Fort Worth is taking to protect customers from lead in drinking water

Corrosion Control

Fort Worth has a corrosion control plan, which is required under the federal Lead and Copper Rule. The purpose of corrosion control is to produce water that creates scale on the inside of pipes. This scale acts a barrier to reduce the leaching of lead from pipes, solder and fixtures into the water.

Fort Worth’s corrosion control study was first done in 1994 and updated in 2009 at the request of the regulatory agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Fort Worth’s corrosion control technique is to adjust pH so the finished water is non-corrosive to metal. The plan is being reviewed by a third-party to determine if changes should be made to optimize corrosion control.

The treated water is monitored for temperature, pH, alkalinity, sulfides and calcium to ensure ongoing corrosion control is in place. Corrosion control is monitored twice a month with reports submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality every six months.

What the utility is doing to replace lead service lines

Lead service lines have been replacing lead service lines through normal maintenance activity and water line rehabilitation projects. Fort Worth Water estimates there are anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 lead service lines in the city, according to a 15-year-old report.

Our records show we have replaced more than 4,000 lead service lines in the previous 11 years through field maintenance activities. Unfortunately, there on no information on how many lead service lines have been replaced through water line rehabilitation projects.

Areas of Fort Worth within Loop 820, to the east of Loop 820 and immediately south of Loop 820 are the most likely locations.

The utility has no information on the type of material used in private plumbing lines inside homes and business.

We do know any developments built in the past 30 years would have neither lead service lines nor private plumbing lines that are lead.

As part of its asset management program, the utility is undertaking an in-house project to obtain GPS coordinates for every meter in the city. At that time, staff will also check and record if the service line or private plumbing is lead. This project is estimated to take two years to complete.

If the utility finds a public lead service line or lead private plumbing, we will notify the customer and provide information on steps that can be taken to minimize the risk.

Just because the line coming out of the meter is not lead, does not mean the home or business may not have lead pipe, copper pipe with lead solder or brass or chrome-plated brass fixtures that contain lead.

Customers who think their home or business could be at risk, can hire a can hire a licensed plumber to perform an inspection.

Notifying customers when a lead service line is disturbed

Fort Worth’s goal is to eliminate all the remaining lead service lines, but doing so can create an increased risk to lead exposure if the private plumbing coming from the meter is lead.

Pipe scale and sediment build up over time inside service lines and private plumbing from the minerals in the water. This scale acts as a barrier to lead leaching into the water as it sits in the pipe. Research now indicates that physically disturbing lead pipes can result in prolonged release of pipe scale and sediment with high lead content which can result in a significant increase in lead exposure risk to residents. This means disturbing the utility’s service line or the meter can cause the scale to come off of the private plumbing line on the other side of the meter.

When Fort Worth replaces a lead service line or disturbs a meter where either or both the service line and private plumbing line are lead, it will leave a packet on the front door notifying the customer this occurred and steps the customer can take to reduce their risk to lead exposure. These customers are also offered a free test of their drinking water for lead.

Day Care Centers and Schools

There are no federal or state requirements for testing the water at schools and day care centers in Texas. The Code Compliance Consumer Health Division enforces city ordinances that require day care centers and schools to pass lead testing before being issued a health permit to open. This applies to new facilities or when facilities change ownership.