In 2012, Denver Water exceeded the lead action level and was required by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to implement the best method to permanently reduce lead in tap water. The water delivered to homes and businesses by Denver Water and its distributors is lead-free, but lead can get into the water as it moves through lead-containing plumbing and service lines located in homes. Because of this, in 2018 CDPHE designated the addition of orthophosphate, a food additive, as the best method for preventing the release of lead from plumbing into drinking water.
When it comes to lead in drinking water, no levels are safe, which is why Denver Water is working to further reduce potential lead exposure for customers with lead service lines and plumbing. As an alternative to the addition of orthophosphate, Denver Water is proposing an approach that addresses the existence of customer-owned lead service lines by accelerating the removal of those lines through a Lead Reduction Program. This program has the following components:
- Increasing the pH level, which reduces the corrosivity of the water.
- Providing at-home water filters free of charge for all customers in Denver Water’s service area with a suspected lead service line.
- Replacing the estimated 65,000 lead service lines in Denver Water’s service area with copper lines over the next 15 years.
The USEPA will begin accepting comments about the program in mid-September and is expected to decide by the end of the year whether the proposed alternative meets Safe Drinking Water Act requirements. CDPHE will then make a decision whether to change the March 2018 orthophosphate designation, if appropriate. Regardless of whether the alternative option is selected, the implementation of optimal corrosion control will begin in March 2020.
For more information on this program, visit www.denverwater.org/lead.