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City of Lincoln
Mayor's Office

2004 Media Releases

December 6, 2004
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Steve Owen, Lincoln Water System, 441-7571
Steve Masters, Public Works and Utilities, 441-7548
Scott Holmes, City-County Health Department, 441-8000

Lincoln Water Quality Greatly Exceeds Federal Standards

Mayor Coleen J. Seng announced today that tests show lead and copper levels in the City’s water are significantly below the federal standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over the past six years, no water samples from homes served by the Lincoln Water System (LWS) have exceeded the EPA lead and copper limits.

“Few services are more important to a community than the provision of quality water,” said Mayor Seng. “Lincoln is known for its quality of life, and our high water quality is key to that reputation. I want to commend our Public Works and Utilities and Health employees who work every day to monitor water quality for our citizens.”

Lead is toxic, especially for children below the age of six. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause permanent brain damage, resulting in learning disabilities or even death. The primary source of lead poisoning is lead-based paint remaining in older homes. To be in compliance with EPA standards, 90 percent of the water samples taken must test below 15 ppb (parts per billion) for lead and below 1,300 ppb for copper. LWS has never exceeded the 90th percentile rule.

“The latest test results are great news for the residents of Lincoln,” said Scott Holmes, Manager of the Environmental Public Health Division of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. “The removal of lead from gasoline and paint has greatly reduced the amount of lead to which children are exposed. The elimination of lead solder has helped reduce lead in drinking water.”

Steve Owen, LWS Superintendent for Water Distribution, said lead and copper are just two of the many substances for which Lincoln’s water is tested. “Monitoring our water quality is a top priority,” Owen said. “We take samples every day to assure that Lincoln’s water is safe for our customers, and our water quality data is extensive.”

Owen also thanked the LWS customers who have volunteered to participate in the water sampling. “Water sampling is very important work,” he said. “Without such great participation, this program would be very difficult to manage.”

Under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, LWS was required to have samples from 100 Lincoln homes analyzed for lead and copper during the initial sampling period in 1992. Based on the good results, LWS was authorized to reducing monitoring to only 50 homes once every three years beginning in 1995. (A chart of the results follows this release.) Homes with samples exceeding the standards in 1992 and 1995 were retested. In some of those homes, the new tests met EPA standards, and in others, the lines containing lead were replaced.

Those homeowners who participated in the 2004 water sampling received letters summarizing the results from their homes. No further action is required until the next sampling in 2007.

Sampling Period Number of samples collected Lead - Number of samples over 15 ppb Copper - Number of samples over 1,300 ppb
January - June 1992 126 6 1
July - December 1992 121 2 0
1995 61 3 3
1998 60 0 0
2001 51 0 0
2004 50 0 0

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