Corrosion Control Treatment
What are we doing to control lead and copper in your drinking water?
Wayne Township and North Jersey District Water Supply Commission have begun a program to control the amount of lead and copper that may get into your drinking water. This program uses a chemical called orthophosphate to form a protective lining on the pipes in your home and in the water distribution system. The protective lining keeps lead and copper from getting into your water.
What is the danger from lead and copper?
Lead is a toxic metal that can cause a variety of health problems. Lead may delay normal physical and mental development in babies and children, cause learning disabilities, reduce attention span, effect hearing, and interfere with red blood cell chemistry. Long‑term exposure to lead can cause stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.
Babies, young children, and pregnant women are especially prone to the negative effects of lead. This is because their bodies are rapidly changing and the lead can interfere with the growth process.
Copper is much less harmful to humans than lead but it is included with lead because it is a common material in plumbing, and it can get into your water in the same way that lead does. In low doses copper is a nutrient for humans, but at higher concentrations it can have negative health effects such as irritation of the digestive system. Copper can also cause blue staining of plumbing fixtures when the concentration is too high.
How does lead get into my drinking water?
The most common source of lead in drinking water is the plumbing in your house or apartment. The water in your pipes can dissolve very small quantities of pipe into your drinking water.
Older homes that had plumbing installed before 1930 are most likely to have lead services. Houses built after 1930 may have some lead in soldered connections, and lead can also be found in brass faucets and fittings.
As your water supplier, we cannot control the amount of lead in your plumbing, but we can reduce the corrosive power of the water supply. By adding specialized water treatment chemicals such as orthophosphate we can reduce the amount of corrosion that takes place in your pipes.
How does the treatment process work?
Orthophosphate is added to the water supply on a continuing basis by using flow‑pacing equipment. The orthophosphate creates a very thin coating on the walls of distribution pipes and house plumbing. This coating protects the metal in the pipes from the corrosive action of water, and limits the amount of lead and copper that dissolve in the water.
The appropriate dosages of orthophosphate is added to the water so that it will coat the pipes in your house, all the way up to the end of your faucets. This means that there will be a small, measurable amount of orthophosphate in the water that you use. However, orthophosphate is safe for human consumption and it adds no noticeable taste to the water.
How do I know that orthophosphate is safe for human consumption?
The orthophosphate used for corrosion control is a certified additive for water. The American National Standards Institute and the national Sanitation Foundation have developed Standard 60 to certify the safety of chemicals used in drinking water. The orthophosphate that we will use is a food‑grade chemical that is safe for human consumption. The concentration of the chemical in the water supply is also closely monitored and controlled to make sure that no negative effects occur.
When did the program start?
Orthophosphate has been added to the water since October 2001.
What else can I do to protect myself and/or my family from lead?
Lead can accumulate in water that has been sitting in your pipes. So it is important to flush out pipes when using a plumbing fixture for the first time in more than six hours. If you live in a house or small apartment building you can flush out the water by running it for 30 seconds to two minutes. If you are worried about wasting water you can fill a large container of drinking water after adequately flushing out the plumbing. Store this container in the refrigerator and use it for drinking water instead of repeatedly flushing out the plumbing.
Also, it is important to avoid using hot water for drinking or cooking. Hot water is better than cold water at dissolving metals, so the hot water may contain higher concentrations of lead than cold water.
Finally, if you would like to ensure that you do not have a problem then have your water tested for lead levels. Testing is simple, and information about testing can be found by contacting the numbers listed below:
NJDEP Bureau of Safe Drinking Water - 1-609-292-5550
NJ Department of Health - 1-609-633-2043
Wayne Township Health Department - 973-694-1800 ext 3240
EPA Drinking Water Hotline - 1-800-426-4791