Missouri city to have lead water pipes removed, once they are located

(UC) — Officials believe adding monochloramine to Trenton, Missouri’s drinking water in 2014 corroded old lead pipes, the Missouri Independent reported. By the next time the city was required to test for lead in the water in 2017, dangerous amounts were detected.

During the testing over the following two years, about 25% of homes tested exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level for lead – 15 parts per billion – at least once, the article states.

The 62 homes tested during that period have lead service lines running from water mains, Trenton Administrator and Utility Director Ron Urton told the Missouri Independent, adding that it is unclear where else lead pipes could be throughout the system.

While the city population is about 6,000, the Trenton Municipal Utilities system serves a population of 10,111 and includes 2,622 service connections, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

While the city managed to get its lead levels back to a safe level by adding a compound that reduces corrosion – its 2021 water quality report showed 90 percent of results came in lower than 6 parts per billion, though they ranged as high as 25.3 parts per billion – the only permanent solution is to replace the lead pipes.

This puts Trenton in the same position as many water systems across the country: environmental regulators banned new lead pipes from being installed in 1986, but that does not mean officials know where all the old ones are.

“A lot of people are flabbergasted that no one’s even bothered to try to figure out how many lead service lines there are in their community or in their state,” Erik Olson, a senior strategic director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said to the Missouri Independent.

Cities and states are waiting for further guidance from EPA for the best way to locate lead pipes, the article states. Missouri is expected to receive $250 million over the next five years for lead service line replacement from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

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