tips to
reduce lead
Lead in drinking water can affect each
home in the District differently. Drinking
water is essentially lead-free in the
distribution system and prior to entering
your individual water service pipes.
in drinking water
lead can be a significant risk to
your health, especially for pregnant
women and children under age six.
SOURCES OF LEAD
A lead service pipe
•The pipe that connects the water
main in the street to your household
plumbing. The material of water service
pipes can vary, and some households
still have lead service pipes. Lead
service pipes were installed until the
mid-1950s.
Additional Information
Drinking Water Division
202-612-3440
drinkingwater@dcwater.com
dcwater.com/drinkingwater
Lead solder
•Connects pipes in household plumbing.
Lead solder was used in plumbing prior
to 1987.
Brass faucets, valves or fittings
•Almost all faucets, valves and fittings
have brass components. Until 2014,
brass faucets and fittings sold in
the United States that are labeled
“lead-free” can contain up to eight
percent lead.
Galvanized iron pipes
•Old, corroded pipes that can release
lead in water if you have, or once had,
a lead service pipe. Galvanized pipes
were installed in many homes prior to
the 1960s.
district of columbia water and sewer authority
George S. Hawkins, General Manager
district of columbia water and sewer authority
Tips to Reduce Lead
in
drinking water
Run the cold water tap for two minutes
before using it for drinking and cooking
lead can be a significant risk to
your health, especially for pregnant
women and children under age six.
Replace lead service pipes
•Lead and other metals can dissolve in water
when it sits in pipes for a few hours.
Do not use the hot water tap
for drinking and cooking
•Always use cold tap water, including
water used for making ice, beverages and
infant formula.
•Hot tap water can cause a greater
amount of lead to release from plumbing
and may contain metals and bacteria that build
up in the water heater.
Remove and clean faucet aerators
• Lead particles and sediment can
collect in the aerator screen located
at the tip of your faucet.
• Aerators should be replaced once
a year and are available at local
hardware stores.
Install lead-free plumbing fixtures
•Install fixtures and fittings that contain 0.25
percent lead or less.
Flush cold water taps after installing new
household pipes or fixtures
•Replace a lead service pipe with copper pipe.
•If you replace your lead service pipe on private
property, DC Water will replace the portion of
the pipe in public space. To learn more about lead
service pipe replacements, contact
Customer Service at
202-354-3600.
•New plumbing can release metals after
installation.
•Flush cold water taps for five minutes at a high
flow rate once a day for three days, especially
before using water for drinking and cooking.
Use filtered tap water
•If you are pregnant or have children under age
six, use cold, filtered tap water for drinking and
cooking until all lead sources are removed. This
includes water used for making infant formula,
beverages and ice.
•Select a filter certified to meet NSF Standard
53 for lead. The filter package should
specifically list the device as certified for
removing the contaminant “lead.”
•Routinely replace filter cartridges according to
the manufacturer’s instructions.
*property
perty
linee
new
public
water
main
private
water
service pipe
public
water
service pipe
*location of your
property line
may vary
water service pipe
Replace household galvanized plumbing
•When lead is released from a lead service pipe and
passes through galvanized pipes, lead can build up
on the inside, corroded walls of this plumbing and
release lead in household water.
•Contact a licensed plumber about replacing
household plumbing.
Drain your water heater annually
• Over time, metals, sediment and bacteria can
build up in your water heater.
• For instructions on how to drain your water
heater, visit dcwater.com/waterheater.
our drinking water
1. Where
does
drinking
water
come
from?
2. Who
treats
drinking
water?
PUBLIC
WATER MAIN
PUBLIC
WATER MAIN
3.
Who
PUBLIC
WATER
distributes
MAIN
drinking
water?
PROPERTY
LINE
4. Where
PUBLIC
WATERcan lead
MAIN
PUBLIC
WATER
MAIN
public
PUBLIC
WATER MAIN
PUBLIC
water
WATER MAIN
main
PROPERTY
LINE
PUBLIC / PRIVATE SERVICE PIPEPUBLIC / PRIVATE SERVICE PIPE
1-3 essentially no lead found
The District of Columbia’s drinking
water is drawn from the Potomac
River by the Washington Aqueduct,
a federal agency.
The Washington Aqueduct is responsible
for water treatment a nd adds orthophosphate
(a food-grade chemical) to minimize the
release of lead from service pipes and
household plumbing.
be found?
PROPERTY
LINE
PUBLIC
WATER
MAIN
PROPERTY
LINE
/
/ PRIVATE
SERVICEpipe
PIPE
PUBLIC / PRIVATE SERVICE
PIPE PUBLIC
public
private
service
possible lead
DC Water distributes the water to
homes and businesses through
1,300 miles of pipes in the District.
Lead can enter your water if you
have a lead service pipe or household
plumbing with lead. Orthophosphate
can reduce lead release from
these sources.