As events in Flint, Michigan, have shown, lead contaminated drinking water is a serious health problem. That’s why cities like Chicago are replacing their lead service lines. Unfortunately, a growing body of evidence suggests that actually makes the problem worse, at least in the short term.

Back in February 2016 the Chicago Tribune reported that residents and property managers don’t seem to be getting all the information they need. Here’s a look at the issue they cited and how lead pipe replacement affects property managers.

Treating Lead Pipes

According to the Tribune, nearly 80% of Chicago properties are hooked to lead service lines. This is the pipe running from the water main to each property. Most cities, like Chicago, add chemicals to the water at the treatment plant that create a coating over the inside of these pipes. This prevents lead from entering the water, so keeping it safe for consumption. (In Flint the problems stemmed, at least in part, from a decision not to add this treatment kamagra oral jelly rezeptfrei kaufen.)

This treatment isn’t problem-free. It carries an ongoing cost, there are concerns about the impact of the chemicals used, and it may not keep all the lead out. If lead levels exceed 15ppb after treatment is implemented, the federal Lead and Copper Rule requires that lead service lines be replaced. Some cities have decided that regardless of the lead levels, replacement is the best long-term solution.

Stirring things up

When a service line crosses the property line it becomes the responsibility of the owner. An article in the Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) journal, (“Reaction to the Solution” May 2010,) puts the average service line at 55 – 68 feet with less than half owned by the water utility. Consequently, when the utility replaces the service line, unless the property owner asks, they’re really only replacing part of it.

As the EHP article reports, numerous studies show partial replacement increases lead levels at the faucet for up to 18 months. The reasons aren’t fully understood but are thought to stem from a combination of disturbing the remaining lead pipes and the effect of galvanic corrosion at the lead-copper connection.

Implications for Chicago Property Managers

Replacing lead pipes in Chicago is a good thing – but with replacement, education of water usability also needs to take place. It is up to property managers to look out for their tenants, giving them appropriate advice and deciding what to do about the remaining lead pipes that are on their property lines. And given the profile of the Flint problems, awareness of the effects of lead is high, so vigilance is essential.

At a minimum, a property manager aware of service line work should advise tenants to run the water for at least 15 minutes, (some utilities suggest longer,) and to use water filters. A more robust solution is to consider getting the pipes epoxy coated. Nu Flow Midwest uses a proven process to coat the inside of existing pipes without the need for expensive and disruptive digging. Call or email for more information.