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City monitors lead levels in water; offers advice for residents

June 28, 2019

Twice annually, the City tests water in homes to evaluate lead levels in drinking water. In more than 10% percent of the homes recently sampled (seven homes total), lead levels were above the action level of 15 parts per billion.

The City is providing information and resources to its residents to reduce exposure to lead in their drinking water, which enters the drinking water through plumbing within the home.

In 1986, the City removed all known lead service connections from its distribution system. Exposure to lead in drinking water is possible if a home has plumbing that contains lead. Homes typically built between 1983 and 1985 are sampled because they have copper pipe and lead solder.

Lead enters the drinking water from the corrosion of building plumbing and fixtures. The homes in Gresham that participate in a voluntary water monitoring program are sampled because they represent high risk. Samples are collected by the homeowners after the water has been standing in household plumbing for more than six hours.

“Protecting public health is a top priority for the City of Gresham,” said Andrew Degner, Water Resources Regulatory Manager. “We’ve informed our customers of these test results and educated them on the ways they can take action to reduce exposure to lead in their water.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the biggest sources of exposure to lead are not from drinking water but rather from exposure to lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil.

Residents concerned about exposure to lead in their homes, especially those with pregnant women and children six years and younger, may contact the City of Gresham at 503-618-2525 or learn more about lead in drinking water and reducing exposure.

Five simple steps to reduce exposure to lead in water

1. Run cold water to flush out lead. If the water hasn’t been used for several hours, run cold taps for 30 seconds to two minutes before drinking or cooking. This simple step can reduce lead in water up to 90% or more.
2. Clean faucet aerators to remove trapped sediment.
3. Do not cook, drink or make baby formula with hot water from the tap. Hot water dissolves contaminants, like lead, quicker than cold water.
4. Do not boil water to reduce lead; it will not remove the contaminant.
5. Install low lead fixtures and a lead-reducing filter.

Residents may order a free water test kit or call 503-988-4000.