High lead levels detected in Snake River near Keystone
December 4, 2017
The Snake River Water District detected water lead levels in excess of the standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The district tested 20 samples, three of which reported lead levels in excess of the 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level set by the EPA. The 90th percentile of lead for Snake River tested at 16.8 ppb. The EPA mandates public alerts whenever more than 10 percent of sites tested report lead in excess of the action level.
Lead can cause serious harm to humans in high concentrations, causing damage to the brain and kidneys, interfering with red blood cell production and increasing the risk for birth defects. Infants and pregnant women are at highest risk for lead exposure.
The district, which serves Keystone customers, says it is investigating the cause of the high lead levels and the potential for corrosion to plumbing in the area.
The district also outlined further steps it will take in 2018 in response to the high lead results, including doubling the sampling frequency from once to twice a year and doubling the sample sites from 20 to 40. The district, which had already increased sample testing frequency and quantity in 2017, also plans to bring in an expert to produce a corrosion control treatment plan by March 2018.
Snake River officials advise residents of several steps they can take to reduce risk of exposure to lead. These include flushing pipes for several seconds before drinking tap water, installing filters on drinking water sources, using cold water for drinking or preparing food, considering testing their water for lead, considering blood tests for children to test for lead and identifying plumbing in their homes that may be susceptible for lead and having them replaced.
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For more information, residents are advised to contact the Snake River Water District at 970-468-0328. For information about how to reduce lead exposure and learn of its effects, visit the EPA's web site at Epa.gov/lead.