Frisco finds elevated levels of lead in water of 5 homes
FRISCO — Five Frisco homes exceeded allowable levels of lead in their water, according to the town.
Earlier this week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified Frisco officials that five of 40 homes recently tested had lead levels at or in excess of 15 parts per billion, the maximum allowable limit.
The town believes the problem most likely stems from issues in individual homes and not from the source water.
“We can’t say for sure until we get the source water results,” said Vanessa Agee, Frisco’s communications director. “But I don’t expect those results have changed in less than a year. That would be very surprising to us as a town.”
This is the second time in just over two years that Frisco homes have shown elevated levels. Last February, six out of 40 homes also showed elevated numbers, but the town was quickly able to rule out its water sources as the cause.
Frisco tested all four of its water sources and determined they were well below limits: Three registered below detectable levels for lead, and one showed 1 part per billion.
The town is currently expecting results from new tests on its water sources “at any moment,” Agee said. She noted that while she expects the tests will return good results again, the town wanted to make sure residents were made aware.
“It’s important for us to be transparent,” Agee said. “We have an immense amount of confidence in our water, and we don’t want to undermine that confidence by not being timely.”
Last year, the town determined the elevated levels were caused by lead leaching off old pipes and fixtures inside homes. That’s likely the explanation for the most recent lead levels, as well.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires Frisco to test 40 homes every six months because the presence of lead in water typically comes from the corrosion of household plumbing materials. More specifically, sampling sites are required to be structures built from 1983-1987, when lead solder was still used in household plumbing.
Measures to address the issue are already in motion, as required by the Department of Public Health and Environment. Because of the heightened levels detected in 2019, the town hired environmental engineers and scientists from Alan Plummer Associates to provide a plan. The new measurements triggered the implementation of that plan.
Frisco will be installing a pH adjustment system at all of the town’s source water locations, which would adjust pH to a more neutral range — from an average of about 7.14 pH to 7 pH. The idea is to prevent the dissolution of lead from piping in homes and buildings with older fixtures.
“The town of Frisco needed to plan for a prescriptive solution to potential elevated lead levels in the future,” Agee said. “This is the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s way of saying, ‘You need to plan ahead to the future. You need to have a plan ready to go.’ This is the plan that is prescriptive for this particular issue.”
Agee said the town’s goal is to have the new systems up and running by the end of the year.
Frisco is also emphasizing more personal solutions. The town is continuing to offer the Start at the Tap fixture rebate program that was implemented last year. The initiative offers up to $100 to help residents replace old fixtures with WaterSense-approved fixtures. Participants can get up to $1,000 in rebates by replacing several fixtures at the same location.
Last year, the program provided $6,234 in rebates to replace 65 old fixtures, which the town expects will help save about 188,300 gallons of water annually in addition to removing lead from Frisco homes.
Lead can build up in the body over time, and ongoing exposure could result in various negative health effects, according to a news release. Infants and children are considered particularly susceptible.
“If you have a home you believe may have fixtures with lead in them, this is a great opportunity to replace them,” Agee said. “And replace them with not only efficient fixtures — so you’re saving money and water — but you’re getting those fixtures out of your house that might have lead. There’s all sorts of upsides.”
- Run the tap to flush out lead. If the tap hasn’t been used for several hours, run the tap until the temperature is noticeably colder. Frisco recommends using the excess water for watering plants or other household uses.
- Only use cold water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula.
- Periodically remove and clean a faucet’s strainer/aerator. Keep the water running to remove debris.
- Boiling water will not remove lead.
- Home lead tests and a list of certified laboratories can be found at Colorado.gov/cdphe/dwlabs.
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