Lead is a naturally occurring metal that was used for many years in paints, plumbing and other products. The Environmental Protection Agency determined that lead can cause health problems if it accumulates in a person's body over time. While lead in tap water is rarely the single cause of lead poisoning, it can increase total exposure. High levels of lead in a home's drinking water can have significant health impacts, especially for children and pregnant women.
To learn more, read and share this PDF handout: Lead Exposure & Your Plumbing.
Does Denver Water have lead in its water?
Each year, Denver Water collects more than 35,000 samples and runs more than 68,000 water quality tests. Lead isn’t present in the mountain streams and reservoirs that supply our water, and it isn’t found in water when it leaves our treatment plants or travels through our system’s water mains.
Although lead isn't present in the water Denver Water sends to your house, lead can get into water as it moves through lead-containing household plumbing and service lines, which are the two most common sources of lead in treated drinking water.
What are the common sources of lead in drinking water?
The most common sources of lead in treated drinking water come after the main, through service lines and household plumbing that contain lead.
Service lines are the pipes that connect a home or building to the water main, which are the pipes in the street that carry water through the city.
If lead is present in your service line, you have an increased risk of exposure to lead through drinking water. If you want to know what type of service line you have, a licensed plumber can test your line to determine if it is made of lead or another material. Lead service lines should be replaced, if possible.
Where are lead service lines located?
Denver Water does not have enough information to know the specific locations of all of the lead service lines in our service area.
In Denver Water’s experience, homes and buildings most likely to have lead service lines are those built before 1951. However, we don't know exactly when and where lead was used by plumbers and builders in our service area.
Because homeowners own service lines, we don't have records of where original lead service lines have been replaced with non-lead material, such as copper.
We are researching regulations, plumbing codes and policies from prior decades to gain a better understanding on areas where lead service lines may exist.
How do I get more information about my drinking water?
For a description of Denver Water’s overall quality of water from its raw collection and storage to the treated purity at your tap, read Denver Water’s annual water quality reports. To have a copy mailed to you please call Customer Care at 303-893-2444.
If you are a Denver Water customer concerned about lead in drinking water, you can request a water quality test for lead from Denver Water.
Does the EPA require testing tap water for lead?
Yes. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), the EPA requires public drinking water systems to test the tap water from homes within their distribution system that are likely to have high lead levels. These are usually homes with lead service lines or lead solder. The EPA rule requires that nine out of 10, or 90 percent, of the sampled homes must have lead levels below the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).
Homeowners who participate in this study collect a sample in accordance with EPA sample collection criteria and send it to Denver Water’s state-certified laboratory for testing. Study samples are held to a tight protocol and once analyzed may not be invalidated without justifiable cause and consensus with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Education.
Public health is important to Denver Water. That's why we want to get lead service lines out of our community. Learn more about lead service lines and our partnership with Denver Urban Renewal Authority to provide financing for homeowners who want to replace theirs.