Flint, Michigan, has been much in the news lately. For those who haven’t heard, the issue is that lead in the drinking water is making the residents sick. While the exact causes are under debate, it’s generally accepted that some are due to lead leaching out of water pipes that were installed as the city grew. This is something that should worry Chicago property managers, and here’s why:

Old problem, recently recognized

Lead in drinking water is nothing new. In fact, the problem goes back to the Romans who found lead the best material for their plumbing systems. During the 1800s and 1900s most of the towns and cities springing up across the United States installed water pipes containing lead. Only in the latter part of the twentieth century did concerns about lead in drinking water begin to grow, forcing legislators to take action.

The Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) was the first piece of legislation aimed at eliminating lead from the water supply. A few years after the SWDA the EPA published the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to keep those metals out of drinking water. Since that time, municipalities have worked to replace older pipes containing lead, and today, most people assume their water is safe to drink. Unfortunately that isn’t necessarily the case.

Problems persist

Even where service lines have been renewed it’s still possible that water coming from the faucet contains excessive levels of lead. The American Water Works Association report “Contribution of Service Line and Plumbing Fixtures to Lead and Copper Rule Compliance Issues,” identified that as much as 35 percent of lead contamination could be contributed by residential plumbing. While older buildings are at greater risk, plumbing systems installed since the 1980s could still have joints made with lead-based solder.

Chicago, too

Lead contamination isn’t confined to Michigan. Many buildings in Chicago, especially those built before the SWDA and LCR became effective, are at risk of lead leaching into the water. If Chicago property managers weren’t concerned about this before, the crisis in Flint surely brought it to their attention!

Recognizing a problem raises the question of what to do. Replacing entire plumbing systems, requiring that structures be practically gutted and rebuilt, is prohibitively expensive while water filters are little more than a Band Aid. Fortunately, there is another option: epoxy pipe lining.

The Pipe Lining System Process

Nu Flow has a proprietary process for lining existing pipes with an epoxy coating. It’s safe, satisfies the requirements for drinking water equipment, and is approved for use in Chicago.

Rather than ripping out and replacing old pipes, Nu Flow flushes and cleans them before applying their special epoxy film. Pipes from 1/2” to 10” in diameter can be treated and the only requirement is that pipes be accessible from two locations. Disruption to building occupants and interiors is minimized and costs are far lower. In addition to keeping lead out of drinking water, benefits include improved flow, the elimination of leaks from joints, and extended system life.

Nu Flow Midwest. Reline. Repair. Renew.