Frequently Asked Questions about Lead and Water Quality
Providing clean, safe drinking water is a top priority at Tampa Bay Water. The drinking water we provide our member governments is safe: it meets or is better than all local, state and federal drinking water regulations.
The water crisis in Flint, Mich., may lead residents to question water quality in the Tampa Bay region. The water quality issues in Flint are due to corrosive water that dissolves lead and other harmful agents in pipelines and fixtures. Tampa Bay Water takes multiple steps to ensure its water is stable and not corrosive, and we monitor our water quality to ensure it meets the highest standards before it is delivered to our members.
Where does Tampa Bay Water get its drinking water?
Tampa Bay Water taps three sources of supply to meet the region’s water needs: groundwater, surface water from local rivers and an off-stream reservoir, and desalinated seawater. We determine the appropriate raw water sources based on a number of factors, including water quality, and provide proper treatment to deliver a high-quality, continuous water supply to the governments we serve.
Should I be concerned about lead in the regional water supply?
No. There are no lead concerns with the regional supply. Tampa Bay Water adjusts pH and alkalinity to ensure water is not corrosive when it leaves our water treatment plants. If water doesn’t meet our high quality standards, it doesn’t leave the plant.
However, lead can be a concern for those who live in older homes that may have been built with lead service lines, lead solder or plumbing fixtures that contain lead. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. More information is available at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead or DrinkTap.org.
Does Tampa Bay Water use lead pipes?
No. We do not use lead pipes, but what’s important is that we routinely test our water for lead, alkalinity and pH more frequently than required to ensure quality.
Should I be concerned about lead in my water at home?
If you are a property owner, there are steps you can take to address potential risks from lead in water. Lead service lines are typically only present in older homes, but older brass faucets with lead content can be in newer homes. A certified plumber can tell you for sure if you have a lead service line.
What should I do if my water tests positive for high lead levels?
Stop using the water and contact your local utility to report the issue. Your utility may want to conduct its own test to confirm the results.
The only way to know with certainty if you have lead at the tap is to have water tested by a certified laboratory. If you are concerned, your local utility can help you find a lab to test for lead.
If pipe or fixture replacement is needed, who is responsible?
If a home has a lead service line, you should contact your local utility about working together to replace it. Services lines are typically owned partially by the utility and partially by the property owner. Replacing these lines require a collaborative effort between you and your utility.
Who do I contact if I have questions about my water?
Residents should contact their local utility about water quality in their local communities. Residents can also request copies of their utility’s Consumer Confidence Report. We are happy to speak with anyone about regional water quality and also make our Consumer Confidence Report available.
How do I know my local utility?
Your local utility is where you pay your water bill. The numbers to the utilities served by
Tampa Bay Water are:
What does Tampa Bay Water do to ensure high water quality?
Our first job is delivering safe water. Those of us involved in managing, cleaning and delivering water share an obligation to protect public health.
Most importantly, if our water doesn’t meet our high water quality standards, it doesn’t leave our water treatment plants.
Our state-certified lab collects more than 6,000 samples from more than 500 monitoring sites annually, and conducts more than 60,000 water quality tests each year to ensure our system’s water meets or is better than required by state, local and federal requirements.
We use a multi-barrier approach to treating water, which makes water progressively cleaner:
- Color and contaminants are removed through a process called coagulation. Ferric sulfate, the coagulant, makes color and contaminants stick to it and settle out of the water.
- Water is disinfected with ozone, the most powerful disinfectant in water treatment. It kills harmful micro-organisms.
- Water is filtered to remove particles, disinfected again with chlorine, and pH and alkalinity are adjusted to make sure the water is stable and not corrosive.
What is being done to eliminate the risk of lead in water?
In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the Lead and Copper rule to minimize lead and copper in drinking water. The rule has been updated over the years to enhance public education and treatment techniques. The rule currently under revision, and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council, which advises the EPA has recommended that utilities create plans for removal of all lead service lines within their systems, with a shared responsibility between the utility and their customers. It also advised that utilities should engage in more outreach to customers on lead, including assisting them with testing their water.
Should I get a filter for my water?
If you are concerned about lead in your water, first, have your water tested by a certified laboratory. Your local utility can help you find a lab to test for lead.
There are steps you can take to protect your family, including purchasing a certified water filter to remove lead, making sure you flush out the lines after a period of stagnation in order to get fresh water that is coming from the main, and avoiding consuming water from the hot water tap, where lead is more likely to be present. You can find more guidance on DrinkTap.org.