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Cincinnati Water Works Says Tap Water Is Free Of Lead

Tana Weingartner
Greater Cincinnati Water Works began replacing lead water supply lines in 1971.

The new director of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works is reiterating the city's water supply is safe and there is no lead leaching into the water supply like the situation in Flint, Michigan. 
But director Cathy Bailey, speaking to city council's Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday, said there is what she calls "ever present risk."

"We know that we still have lead service lines in our system, that's something that is known," Bailey said.  "We have a main replacement program that we've had in place 1971; and so as we go out and replace those water mains, we look at those lead service lines and we replace as much as we can there."

The city still has about 16,000 lead service supply lines, but that number is down from 24,000 a few years ago.  

Meanwhile, there are many homes in Cincinnati that have lead supply lines from the meter to the house.  As officials find those, they notify property owners that they may want to consider replacing them.

"We have the corrosion control program that is protecting them from the lead leaching into the water," Bailey said.  "But their water is completely safe now.  The lead is not leaching into their water supply."

Water Works addressed the issue in a memo last month.

"More than 95 percent of the homes tested in Cincinnati have no or very low levels of lead," the memo said.  "Homes built before 1927 are more likely to have lead pipes. If a homeowner has any concerns they should contact GCWW who can, at no charge, test water for lead or provide a list of labs certified to do lead water analysis."

The same memo also offered an easy way for homeowners to check for lead service lines.
"To test for a lead pipe, customers can use a coin and scratch the water line coming into your home," the memo said.  "If the pipe scratches easily and the mark is shiny and silver, then the pipe is likely lead, the water should be tested, and the pipe should be replaced."

Residents with concerns can also call Water Works at 513-591-7700.

Water Works is working on reports for council members after different motions asked for updates on lead in drinking water following the water crisis in Flint.