The Portland Water Bureau recently released a report from its twice-a-year testing for lead in water at 134 high-risk homes – and the results have raised eyebrows.
The figures showed that 18 (or 13 percent) of these homes – known to have lead solder in their plumbing – had lead-in-water levels that exceed the federal limits.
Test results showed that the lead levels were 17 parts per billion, over the limit of 15 parts per billion.
If more than 10 percent of high-risk homes exceed the state limit, the water bureau must notify the public with strategies to lower levels.
Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant people and children six years and younger.
In Portland, home plumbing such as faucets or lead-based solder can contain lead, which is then released into water through corrosive action of water passing through pipes.
The city receives its water through the Bull Run watershed which, according to the water bureau, treats drinking water by raising its pH level to make it less corrosive.
October’s testing is the third time in five years that the city has surpassed federal limits on lead in water.
“Ideally, all of our customers' household plumbing fixtures would be lead-free, but they aren't,” said Portland Water Bureau director Michael Stuhr in a statement. “This is why we are making improvements to our system to further reduce the potential for lead at our customers' taps.”
The results prompted the Portland City Council to authorize the water bureau’s corrosion control treatment – to be in place by spring 2022 – to help curb the levels of lead in drinking water.
The Portland Water Bureau and regional providers recommend the following easy steps that customers can take to reduce exposure to lead in water: