Previous elevated water lead levels outlined by city utilities

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) — Fort Wayne’s City Utilities puts out an annual water quality report every July first, and this year’s outlined how water samples from eight homes last November measured higher than allowed levels of lead.

But the deputy director of engineering for City Utilities says there’s no lead in the water that comes from the city’s filtration plant, nor does the contamination come from the pipes that deliver it to your property line.

“It’s basically from the street on into the house, and then the plumbing in the house that is where lead exists in a water system,” Matthew Wirtz says.

Older homes are especially at risk, because some plumbing installed before 1940 was made entirely of lead, and homes from the 40’s through the 70’s may have lead soldering in their plumbing.

“They should be very concerned, especially if they have younger children,” says the health department’s David Fiess.

Fiess says ingesting lead from paint or water doesn’t have much of an impact on adults, but can be devastating for children.

“The effect of it is basically reducing a child’s IQ, their ability to learn. It can lead to behavioral issues,” Fiess says.

To help alleviate lead problems in water, engineers add lime or ortho phosphate to the water supply to build up scale inside pipes to seal them and protect against corrosion.

If your water tests positive for lead, you should run cold water for at least 30 seconds before you drink it or use it to cook.

“One of the recommendations we always give people if they do discover lead, one of the ways to just monitor that and manage that in your home is to flush your line before you drink it. Lead isn’t impactful for your bathing and your sanitary uses and all that, it’s just the drinking aspect of it,” Wirtz says.

You can also replace your plumbing, or the line from your house to the street, which will cost at least several thousand dollars.

Water engineers have seen fewer samples test positive for lead in the first half of this year.

You can get some answers to water and lead questions here.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose

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