Letter to the Editor

Pamela Marchand, P.E.

Bristol County Water Authority


Since the Providence Water Supply Board was recently in the news regarding past issues with lead, the BCWA would like to let our customers know that our water is safe.

Even though our supply is from Providence Water, the BCWA has never exceeded the EPA levels for lead.  Lead does not come from the water supply or the water mains, which are cast iron, ductile iron or concrete.  Lead contamination occurs when corrosive water sits in contact for a period of time with household plumbing that contains lead.

Corrosive water can leach lead in household plumbing from lead service lines, lead-tin solder (used until 1986 in copper pipes), or from brass faucets.

Providence Water has over 13,000 lead services.  A few years ago, even though they had not exceeded the action level for lead, Providence Water attempted to adjust the corrosion treatment of their supply to make the water less corrosive to lead, based on experts’ recommendations.  The treatment was not successful, resulting in occasional exceedance of the action level.  Providence Water then returned to their regular treatment, and the lead levels returned to normal (below the action level).

Few lead services were installed in the BCWA water system, and have since been removed.  Even so, the BCWA is on a constant look-out for any lead on the homeowner’s side of the connection when we inspect or change meters.  We are currently investigating galvanized iron services (about 150 in our system), that may have had a lead connector.  Even though our test levels for lead are very low or non-detectable, we will remove any lead found in the BCWA system.

However, the homeowner owns a piece of the service line from the property line into the house.  This pipe is the owner’s responsibility.  Should the BCWA determine the service line is not copper or not in good condition upon inspection, the BCWA will recommend replacement.

Even though the lead levels are low, the BCWA strongly recommends flushing your faucets about 3 to 5 minutes (depending on the length of the service line) until the water is cold, then another minute if the water has sat in the household plumbing for more than 6 hours.  This will insure you are getting fresh water from the water main in the street, and flush out any water that may have picked up contaminates in the household plumbing.

It is the mission of the BCWA to provide safe, high quality drinking water to our customers.  The BCWA has been very pro-active in taking aggressive steps to protect water quality. In the previous three years the BCWA has instituted numerous distribution system projects and operations and maintenance programs.

For further information, please see our website at bcwari.com, or call me at 245-2022.

Pamela Marchand, P.E.
Executive Director