How to test the water quality in your home

A water sample being tested for lead.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The situation in Flint has many people, including some right here in Fort Wayne, worried about their local municipal water.

The good news is under federal law and state law, Fort Wayne’s water is tested for contaminates multiple times through the year.

When it comes to lead, Flint’s water currently tests about 25 parts per billion. That means there are 25 particles of lead for every billion parts of water. While that may not seem like a lot, it’s nearly double the maximum amount allowed by the EPA. Levels above 15 parts per billion, are known to cause medical and developmental problems in children.

Fortunately here in Fort Wayne, our water is well below that level. On average, our water tests at about 4.5 parts per billion. What’s even better is that most of the 52 samples taken last year were even lower than that.

Lead is only one of dozens of contaminants the city tests for. To see last year’s full report click here.

Even though Fort Wayne’s water meets, and sometimes exceeds, state and federal regulations lead can still leach into your water. That’s because some homes built before or around 1950 have lead pipes connecting the home to the water line. Also, before 1986 household plumbing regularly contained some amount of lead. However, there are steps you can take to make sure it’s safe.

One way is an at-home test kit. They range in cost from about $10 to $25 and can test a variety of contaminants. Some provide immediate results and others must be sent to a lab before results are sent back to you.

Another good idea, especially if you’re pregnant or have small children, is to use a water filter if you have lead pipes. If the water hasn’t been used in a few hours, letting it run for about 30 seconds can flush out the pipes. Using only cold water for cooking and drinking is also another preventative measure to prevent exposure to lead. The reason is because hot water may contain a higher concentration of lead that might have built up in the water heater over time.

The best way to prevent lead in your water is to install lead-free plumbing fixtures. According to the city, in most cases Fort Wayne City Utilities will replace the public portion of the service line if the property owner agrees to replace their portion of the line. There is certain criteria that must be met to determine priority for the upgrade.

If you have questions about health risks associated about lead in water or steps you can take reduce exposure you can call the city at 311 or the Health Department at (260) 449-8600. You can also direct any questions to the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. 

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