It’s a New Year for all of us, but it’s a really big year for our water system. 2014 holds some big changes for your water consumption. January 4, 2014 is the effective date for the new federal “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act,” The law makes it illegal to sell or install pipes, fittings and fixtures in applications that convey water for human consumption that have a weighted average lead content exceeding 0.25%. With this new law, repairs and improvements to our water supply pipelines may impact our own water consumption significantly.
Congress enacted the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act on January 4, 2011, to revise the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regarding the use of lead pipes, plumbing fittings or fixtures, solder and flux. The Act established a prospective effective date of January 4, 2014, giving cities and counties a three-year timeframe to make a transition to the new requirements, in addition to public utilities, government agencies, plumbing manufacturers, plumbing retailers and trade associations.
Lead is a common metal found in natural deposits and is used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. It’s rarely found in the sources of our water. Lead generally enters our tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead in pipes, fixtures and solder than homes build more recently. However, even legally “lead-free” plumbing may contain up to 8 percent lead. The most copper, brass or chrome-plated pipes, faucets or fixtures are held together by lead soldering, which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water.
Lead in drinking water can cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure and may cause kidney problems.
Any water, even bottled water, is expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminant. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily mean that the water isn’t safe. Dallas Water Utilities tests the water up to 50,000 times every month. The water provided to Dallas residents is non-corrosive, meaning that it is less likely to leach lead from pipes than water that is corrosive. Almost all water treatment facilities have a multi-barrier system in place that’s supposed to keep the water clean even when one of the barriers fails. You can request more information from your provider. Both the City of Ft. Worth and Dallas Water Utilities provide their annual Water Quality Report on their websites.
But, that doesn’t prevent lead contamination between the facility and our homes. When cities or counties repair or improve our water supply system in compliance with the new laws, they may have to expose old lead pipes and solder. This has temporarily increased the lead content of the drinking water. Most homeowners likely are unaware that work on the water supply system is being done or that the water may be tainted. Under federal rules, utility companies are rarely required to warn residents.
In addition to the potential exposure to lead, our pipes contain all kinds of bacteria, metals, chemicals and minerals. Some of them may interact with our pipes and cause additional exposure to metals by corroding our pipes, fixtures and even our water heater. To remedy this problem, we can install water treatment systems.
Water treatment devices can improve the water quality by reducing health hazards such as bacteria, chemical pollutants and other toxic substances (in addition to lead) and help remove nuisance problems, such as odors or hardness. Using a whole house water treatment system can also protect our cookware and ceramics, skin, and clothing (among dozens of other items) from damage from minerals and chemicals.
Water treatment systems generally use one or a combination of these five basic categories:
- – Disinfection methods (chlorination, ultraviolet light, etc.).
- – Filtration, including activated carbon filters.
- – Reverse osmosis.
- – Distillation.
- – Ion exchange (water softeners)
There are benefits to each system. Before you make any decisions, you should call your certified plumber. They can explain the differences between systems and product types. They can help you determine which system is best for you. Ask about discounts or rebates from the manufacturers. Your certified plumber may also have additional suggestions and may have specials on equipment or other services. Many also have service plans, like Berkeys BAM Plan, that can help save you money on service calls and provide annual plumbing tune-ups.
You can call Berkeys Air Conditioning & Plumbing 24/7 at 817-481-5869 or visit www.Berkeys.com for questions and scheduling information nr on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Berkeys.