Contact Us

Address: 900 E. Broad St.,
                 Room 115
                 Richmond, VA 23219

Phone:     (804) 646-4646
                 For gas leaks, leave the area and call 911

 

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Lead Free Water Program
Protecting public health and safety is at the heart of the mission for the City of Richmond. Richmond’s drinking water is safe, clean, and reliable and the Department of Public Utilities works around the clock to ensure this commitment is kept. Richmond’s drinking water has always met and usually exceeds standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). DPU continuously monitors the safety of its drinking water, with continuous testing for numerous substances. The results of these tests are shared with VDH monthly and published annually in the City’s Consumer Confidence Report.

We remind citizens that eliminating the risk of lead getting into drinking water is a shared responsibility. Richmond’s drinking water does not contain lead when it leaves the treatment plant. Rather, instances of lead in water can occur from water service lines made of lead as well as internal plumbing materials. A portion of each water service line is owned by the City (public), and a portion is owned by the property owner (private).  

Residential Lead Service Line Replacement Grant Program requires all replacements to be completed by a plumber who has attended a DPU Plumber Certification training session. Plumbers who successfully complete this training will be certified to participate in the Lead Service Line Replacement Grant for 2024.

Wednesday, March 27
12:00 noon - 2:00 p.m.
Hickory Hill Community Center
Please click the link or scan the QR code below to register to attend no later than Tuesday, March 26. For questions contact, the Lead Free Water Program at leadfreewater@RVA.gov or 804-646-8600.

Register here

Learn more about lead in water and ways to reduce exposure.

Sources of Lead

Lead can get into tap water through home service piping, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass fixtures. Even though the use of lead solder was banned in the U.S. in 1986, it might still be present in older homes. The corrosion of these lead-based materials can add lead to tap water, particularly if water sits for an extended time in pipes, for instance, in the morning, after sitting overnight, when you return from work or from a trip away.

Health Effects of Lead

If too much lead enters your body from drinking water or other sources, serious problems can occur. It can damage the brain and kidneys and interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body.

The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, the elderly and pregnant women. Effects of lead in the brain have been linked to lower IQs in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by even low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and can be released later in life. During pregnancy, lead from the mother's bones can be passed to the unborn child, which may affect brain development.

If high levels of lead are found in drinking water, water may contribute up to 20 percent of a person's exposure to lead, 60 percent for an infant who consumes mostly formula mixed with water containing lead.

DPU's Efforts

Since the program started in 1992, we have been in compliance for lead and copper levels. DPU uses corrosion control measures required by the state and EPA to prevent lead from leaching out of lead pipes and plumbing fixtures. Ten specific locations are monitored every six months to confirm our corrosion control measures and we routinely monitor lead and copper at 50 locations throughout our service area.

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water

  • You should always begin with cold water for drinking and cooking.
     
  • When you haven’t used your water for several hours, flush out the pipes to remove any lead. You can do this by running cold water from the faucet, taking a shower, doing a load of laundry or washing dishes.

  • Consider capturing the extra water from the faucet and using it to water plants or even for flushing the toilet.
     
  • You should also clean out your faucet aerators because they can collect lead particles.

  • Make sure new plumbing fixtures are certified as lead free.
     
  • And you can even purchase a home filter certified to remove lead. If you do, make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure it is properly maintained.

  • You can also have your water tested by a certified lab to see if lead is present.

 

Elevated lead levels can cause serious problems if too much enters the body from drinking water or other sources. Lead water service lines are relatively common in older cities and older water utilities. Since we’ve learned the harmful effects of lead, best practices for reducing exposure to lead have evolved over time. In keeping with best practices, the City of Richmond began in the early 1980s treating its water with an inhibitor to prevent lead from entering the water system. That same year, the City began replacing the public portion of the lead water service lines. These practices have been underway for several decades. 

When best practices further evolved to full replacements, including replacing the private service lines, DPU coordinated with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to provide funding assistance. The City of Richmond was one of the first recipients in the Commonwealth to receive the VDH grant funding to assist private property owners in replacing lead lines. This grant was introduced in 2018 and, to date, along with ARPA funding, has aided in the replacement of nearly 600 lead service lines. Early in 2023, DPU received an award for its grant program from the EPA (AQUARIUS Award for creative solutions). The grant program is anticipated to reopen in March 2024 to further assist property owners.

The current Lead and Copper Rule Revisions from the US Environmental Protection Agency requires that by October 2024, the City submits to VDH a map that inventories the material of all water service lines (public and private). DPU has released this interactive service line inventory map and customer survey. The assistance of private property owners will be critical to this effort. Click on the Water Pipe Inventory Survey for details.

The City is developing an inventory of water service lines as part of a nationwide initiative mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lead and Copper Rule Revisions. The purpose of the inventory is to identify service lines that may be constructed of lead and to help the City develop a comprehensive replacement plan.

To comply with the EPA’s requirements, the City is asking residents at locations with unknown service line materials to submit information on their service line through the online self-reporting survey.

To start the survey, click here

The City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities is making it easier for residential property owners to replace lead water service lines. To date, the City has been able to provide financial assistance of over $1.5 million to property owners to have those private service lines replaced. The goal is to reduce the number of water service lines that are made of lead, as we work collectively toward Lead Free Water.

Lead is a common metal found in the environment in many sources, including some plumbing materials. Richmond’s drinking water does not contain lead when it leaves the treatment plant. Rather, instances of lead in water can occur from water service lines made of lead as well as internal plumbing materials.  

A new round of grant funding is anticipated to be released March 2024 for lead service line replacements for residential property owners. Check for the grant program details closer to that date.

Plumbers who are interested in helping replace these private-side lead lines are encouraged to be on the lookout for the next training session to become certified to work with the grant program.