Chapparal residents told to run faucet before drinking
By Peter Jones
About 30,000 residents of the Chapparal neighborhood in Arapahoe County have been warned about high levels of lead in their tap water, but the potentially unsafe metal is coming from inside homes, not from the water source itself.
“The water we provide to the home has no lead,” said Gary Atkin, general manager of the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority. “It’s an issue that resides with the plumbing.”
Atkin says the culprit is the lead-heavy plumbing solder that was used in many of the homes built for about a six-year period in the 1980s.
“At the time, they developed a solder that was more effective for sweating the joints, but it had a lot of lead in it,” Atkin said. “When the water sits in the fixture overnight, the lead leaches out of the fixture and into the water.”
The source of the problem has confused some residents because the recent warning letter about the matter came from Atkin’s office at ACWWA, the government district that happens to provide water and wastewater service to more than eight square miles of the southeast metro area, including Chapparal.
As it happens, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule compels all government water providers to take the lead on lead. Districts like ACWWA are required to conduct regular tests on a percentage of homes built during the brief time in which lead-heavy solder was commonly used.
When tested lead and copper exceeds the EPA’s recommended levels, the water systems must notify residents and property owners of the issue and inform them of the steps they can take to protect themselves.
In this case, the remedy is simple, Atkin says. Before using any water, consumers should run the tap for about 15 to 30 seconds, enough time to flush out lead that has been sitting in the pipe. The EPA website also says some homeowners should consider replacing their service lines.
Last June, ACWWA’s sample of 60 homes in Chapparal found 14 had high lead levels. All properties in the area were notified in the letter sent by ACWWA, but drafted by the EPA and the Colorado Department of Health.
“The real responsibility lies with the homeowner to take precautionary measures at that point,” Atkin said.
Exposure to lead and copper can cause health problems that range from stomach distress to blood disorders and brain damage.
Chapparal is the only housing development in the ACWWA district that has a significant number of qualifying 1980s-era homes.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |