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Water Authority Begins Lead Pipe Inventory, Schools Receive Favorable Water Reports

News Editor

As previously mentioned in the Sentinel, all water and sewer authorities in the nation are completing a pipe audit due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR), and the Dade County Water and Sewer Authority is requesting assistance from the public in order to collect data.

If you are a customer of the Dade County Water and Sewer Authority, keep an eye out for an insert coming with August’s bill. Because lead solder and lead pipes were banned in Georgia in 1986, homes built prior to this date are the ones in question.

Sherri Walker (general manager at the water authority) explained, “The LCRR Mailer is being sent to all customers in an effort to obtain as much information as possible regarding the customers pipe material. Customer involvement will definitely help to reduce the cost of water authority personnel having to visit every location.”

Part of the mailer reads, “The Authority has worked to ensure that no lead is in our distribution system, but to verify none is remaining, we must identify the material of all water service lines within our service area including customer owned. Your service line is the pipe that extends from the water meter to your house.”

The mailer includes instructions and a number to call with your report or a short form to fill out.

By chance, this mailer is coming out not long after the Dade County school system participated in state-funded water testing, which the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on. While the water authority was not involved in the testing, Walker will be requesting the results to include in their inventory report.

The EPA-mandated inventory looks at pipes, while the testing done at the schools looked directly at the water coming from the pipes.

Superintendent Josh Ingle explained that when he became superintendent, he asked the county what company they used for testing water. The schools planned to use this third-party company, but their facilities consultant with the Georgia Department of Education mentioned a state funding option. “Clean Water for Georgia Kids” launched in 2021, and Dade’s schools were tested in spring 2023.

As published by the Times Free Press, Ross Williams wrote, “Most of the drinking fountains had no detectable lead, though some had slightly elevated levels. A few kitchen sinks and faucets in employee break rooms had higher levels, with one Davis Elementary kitchen hand-washing sink standing out at 13.47 parts per billion…None of Dade County’s samples reached the 15 parts per billion threshold that requires immediate action.”

Ingle further explained to the Sentinel, “We implemented mitigation measures prior to this testing, when COVID-19 came about. We removed the majority of our traditional water fountains and replaced them with bottle-filling stations with in-line filters. The majority of those were less than 0.1 parts per billion.”

Because the hand-washing sink is not used for drinking water or food prep, it is not of immediate concern. For taps with a 15 parts per billion reading, the state grant covers further testing, but since all of Dade’s schools were under that mark, we won’t receive further funding for this testing. However, Ingle requested that John Smith (director of facilities) retest six taps.

Ingle reported that the minimum threshold is less than 0.1 parts per billion, and his goal is to get all taps to that level, even those not used for drinking water.

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