Lead Service Line Replacement Program FAQs

What is Henrico County doing to continue to eliminate lead from drinking water?

Henrico County is committed to providing the public with clean and safe drinking water. The County is also committed to the full replacement of all lead service lines in their system. Henrico County will begin to prioritize communities that are most vulnerable and at risk from lead exposure, particularly infants and children. Areas with facilities serving these populations, such as schools and daycares, will also be prioritized. Other determining factors are areas with a potentially high concentration of lead service lines (homes built before 1986), underserved neighborhoods, and areas with other known construction activity. Once Henrico County has a complete picture of where any lead service lines are present, the County will partner with property owners, and begin the process to apply for federal and state grant funding to help defer the entire cost of replacing any lead based water service lines.

What is the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)?

In 1991, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to protect public health and reduce exposure to lead and copper in drinking water. Since 1991, the LCR has undergone various revisions. EPA’s 2021 Revised Lead and Copper Rule better protects communities and children at schools and childcare facilities from the risks of lead exposure by getting the lead out of our nation’s drinking water, and empowering communities through information. On August 4, 2022, EPA released Guidance for Developing and Maintaining a Service Line Inventory to support water systems with their efforts to develop inventories, and to provide states with needed information for oversight and reporting to EPA. The guidance provides essential information to help water systems comply with the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions requirement to prepare and maintain an inventory of service line materials by October 16, 2024.

How is the County creating the Lead Service Line Inventory?

Henrico County is developing a comprehensive inventory of known and suspected lead service lines through a combination of property records research, visual inspection of service lines, and a customer survey. Once the data has been compiled, we will use the results to create a lead service line replacement program to help replace any existing lead service lines to your home.

We invite you to help us identify your home’s water service line material by taking this survey:  Henrico County Service Line Survey

What is a Water Service Line?

A water service line is the pipe that connects buried water mains to a building’s interior plumbing to supply potable water, and sometimes to supply fire protection systems. The water service line is typically referred to as the segment of buried water pipe under the street and is the property of the water utility.  Henrico County is responsible for the water service line between the water main and the water meter at the right-of-way/property line, and individual property owners are responsible for the water service line from the meter at the right-of-way/property line to the property (house, building, etc.).

What is a Lead Service Line?

One of the primary sources for lead in drinking water in homes is lead service lines (LSLs). LSLs transport treated public water into homes and may seep the material from the pipe into a building’s drinking water. Henrico County’s water mains are leadfree. However, some homes may have a water service line that is made of lead or lead components. Older homes, especially those built before 1986, are more likely to have LSLs, fixtures, and solder.

How do I determine if my water service line is made of lead?

Find the water service line entering your property. You may see it where it comes through the floor or wall, in a basement, crawl space or on a lower level. Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft. You can identify them easily by carefully scratching them with a key or coin. If the pipe is made of lead, the area you’ve scratched will turn a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument, as this could puncture a hole in the pipe. A magnet won’t stick to a lead pipe.

Lead service lines can also be connected to the residential plumbing using solder and have a characteristic solder “bulb” at the end, a compression fitting, or other connector made of galvanized iron or brass/bronze. If you notice these elements, it may mean that your service line is made of lead. Lead service lines often end just inside the front or side wall of the home but may extend further into the building.

Please share your inspection observations with us, by taking this survey: Henrico County Service Line Survey

Why is lead in plumbing a health risk?

Lead is a toxic metal that can cause immediate health effects at high doses, and long-term health effects if it builds up in the body over many years. Lead can cause brain and kidney damage and can have dangerous effects on the blood and vitamin D metabolism. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable because the effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to central and peripheral nervous system damage, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. For more information about lead and health risks, visit the Lead Safe and Healthy Homes Initiative of Richmond-Henrico Health District at (804) 205-3726 or visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city/healthy-homes/.

How does lead get into drinking water?

Lead is almost never present when water flows from a water treatment facility, nor is it present in the water mains running beneath the streets. However, in some older homes built before 1986, lead may be present in the pipe connecting the home to the water system – known as a service line — or in the home plumbing. Lead in service lines, plumbing, or fixtures can dissolve, or particles can break off into the water and end up at the tap. Lead can enter drinking water when pipes and plumbing fixtures that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content.

What is the water quality for Henrico County?

Henrico County water is monitored for many different kinds of substances on a very strict sampling schedule and must meet specific health standards. The 2021 Annual Water Quality Report identifies substances that were detected. Remember, detecting a substance does not mean the water is unsafe to drink, and our goal is to keep all detects below their respective maximum allowed levels.

How will I know if I have lead in my water?

Because it is colorless and tasteless, lead is not readily apparent in water.  If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods and how to minimize exposure is available by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or online at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Can my pets drink water with lead?

Lead can impact animals the same way it does humans. Because domestic animals consume a relatively high volume of water relative to their body weight, pet owners with lead in their home plumbing may want to take precautions.

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