Safe Drinking Water a Top Priority for the City of LakewoodFebruary 01, 2016
In light of the current drinking water lead contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., the city of Lakewood wants to reassure the public that providing and maintaining safe drinking water to customers remains a top priority.
“Ensuring the safety of our residents is among our primary functions as a local government,” said Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers. “Providing and maintaining safe drinking water to customers remains of critical importance and a top priority in Lakewood.”
The city’s water supply meets all of the state and federal health standards for drinking water.
Below are some basic facts about lead and information about the ongoing water quality and treatment practices by the city of Lakewood, to keep a situation like Flint from happening here.
Nick Delvecchio, the unit manager for the city’s Division of Water, shared some background and some tips about Lakewood’s drinking water supply.
“We go to great lengths to test our drinking water supply — per EPA requirements — to ensure our residents’ safety,” he said. “We buy our water from the city of Cleveland, which is clean, but we also conduct thorough additional testing of our water.”
Lakewood is a “master-metered” community, meaning that it does not operate a drinking water plant. Instead, Lakewood contracts with the city of Cleveland for clean drinking water.
Cleveland’s state-of-the-art water treatment process includes multiple barriers to protect public health. There are 22 entry points in Lakewood with master meters. Water quality in Lakewood is checked on a regularly scheduled basis, as required by the EPA.
The four main items that Lakewood checks are disinfection and disinfection byproducts, pH levels, orthophosphates — which are added to keep contaminants from leaching from the existing pipe lines.
The city of Cleveland’s treatment plant uses filtration, alum, powdered activated carbon (PAC), Potassium Permanganate, and chlorine (Cl) to remove and treat for natural and man-made contaminants from our drinking water.
These processes, along with a corrosion control process, ensure there is no lead in the water as it flows through distribution pipes under the streets.
In addition, Lakewood frequently uses rigorous testing methods to determine lead — and other contaminants and particles — in the drinking water supply.
Regulations Controlling Lead in Water
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the danger that lead poses in the drinking water and in 1991 issued the Lead and Copper Rule which mandated that water systems adjust their water chemistry to control corrosion, and therefore limit lead leaching into the water. These rules have been revised several times since 1991.
Lakewood has been in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule since it became effective via the longstanding lead corrosion control program.
As required, through the city of Cleveland, the city of Lakewood treats the drinking water specifically to minimize the amount of lead that may leach into the drinking water and undergoes a testing program to ensure that the treatment is effective. This treatment process is called lead corrosion control. Monitoring has shown that the program is effective in minimizing city lead levels in home tap water.
Lakewood is compliant with the existing lead regulations. Lakewood currently has an estimated 5,000 lead service lines still in service, representing about 40 of the city’s total service lines that the city maintains. These service lines travel from the water main under the street to the curb valve, typically located in the tree lawn. The resident-maintained service line connects to that valve to the home.
The city typically replaces between four and five water mains each year, at a cost of more than approximately $500,000 for each main. All of the city’s service connections are replaced with copper as part of the new water main project.
Immediate Actions to Address Customer Concerns in Lakewood
With regard to lead, the city is required by the Ohio EPA to test 30 sampling points around Lakewood every three years. The maximum contaminant level (MCL) must be lower than 15 parts per billion (ppb). The most recent test in 2015 found no detectable levels of lead in every single sample.
If a homeowner has any concerns they should contact Lakewood’s division of water, which will share a list of Ohio EPA approved laboratories certified at testing water for lead. Before an analysis is performed, the city of Lakewood recommends that customers determine whether pipes are actually lead, as pipes can be made of different materials including plastic, copper, iron and lead.
If homeowners have questions about the status of pipes in their home they should call Lakewood at 216-529-6820 for assistance. Or, residents can call the city of Cleveland’s Risk Manager 216-664-2444, ext. 5838.