Lead in Connecticut’s water: How the state is handling the problem

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(WTNH) — An investigative report done by USA Today exposed hundreds of public water supply systems across the country that had dangerously high lead levels between 2012 and 2015. According to the report, more than 50 of them were right here in Connecticut.

A public water supply, or PWS, is a water system that supplies water to more than 25 people. They can be school buildings, office complexes, factories, day care centers, and condo complexes, just to name a few. Officials with the Connecticut Department of Health say the lead is not coming from the source.

“There are over 150 reservoir systems in the State of Connecticut. Those reservoirs are well protected,” said Lori Mathew, the drinking water section chief at the DPH.

Mathew says Connecticut has more than 2000 PWSs. She says high lead levels are the result of lead in the pipes and service lines. Mathew says only 14 systems in the state are currently testing high, a sign that the Department of Health is closely monitoring the situation. The DPH says water testing must be done every 6 months, one year, or every three years depending on the system.

“They’re responsible to get back in compliance and there are a number of steps that have to take place. They have to issue public notice. They have to issue public education. They have to do more quality testing,” said Mathew.

If water in a PWS can be tainted, so could the water in your home. The DPH says homeowners, especially those that get their water from a well, should test their water annually.

Lead in water tests can be purchased at a hardware store and typically cost around $12 plus lab fees.

“You get a little sample of water. You mail it into the company and they have a testing lab there and they mail you back the results in a very short time,” said David Katz of Goody’s True Value Hardware in East Haven.

The USA Today report came on the heels of a major health crisis, after lead was found in drinking water coming from the Flint River in Michigan. Here in Connecticut, the DPH says a problem like that could never happen here.

“IN comparison to Flint, Michigan, we would never use the Flint River in Connecticut. We don’t use the Connecticut River. We don’t use the Housatonic River. We don’t use the Thames River for drinking. We don’t use Long Island Sound for drinking. We use the highest quality sources for higher consumption,” said Mathew.

As of 3/19/2016, the DPH reports the following PWSs have higher than acceptable lead levels:

Hawthorne Terrace Assoc. Danbury
Franklin Commons Franklin
Parkway School Greenwich
95 Bridge Road Haddam
CTWC – London Park Division Hebron
Birch Mountain Day School Manchester
Cedarhurst Association Newtown
Temple Shalom Norwalk
DEEP Marine Headquarters Old Lyme
Eastport – West 2 Old Lyme
Moosup Garden Apartments Plainfield
Baxter Farms Community Water Assoc. Tolland
62-70 Merrow Road Tolland
Arrowhead by the Lake Association, Inc. Wolcott

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