CAW’s Efforts to Monitor for Lead in Drinking Water

Central Arkansas Water’s Efforts to Monitor and Minimize
the Presence of Lead in Drinking Water

CAW Lead Online Blog Graphic_February 2016

Central Arkansas Water (CAW) is committed to providing safe, reliable, high quality water to the families, businesses, and industries we serve.  As a result, CAW continually implements best practices monitor for and minimize the presence of potentially harmful contaminants in the water delivered to our customers.

National headlines have thrust lead to the forefront of the discussions relating to effective water treatment and delivery. Unfortunately, water has electrolytic characteristics that can, over time, cause corrosion resulting in elements from the distribution system and from household plumbing, including fixtures, to leach into the drinking water.

CAW (and its predecessor utilities) use comprehensive treatment measures to reduce the corrosion of both piping and plumbing systems.  During the treatment process, CAW staff monitors for indicators of corrosiveness and adds calcium hydroxide and zinc orthophosphate to our source water from Lake Maumelle and Lake Winona to minimize corrosive reactions and create a protective film coating inside piping and plumbing materials to protect against the leaching effect created by those reactions.   CAW regularly conducts compliance monitoring within homes throughout our distribution system with the analyses conducted by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).  Those homes are located in areas with older piping materials in order to assess the effectiveness of the chemicals added.  Additionally, CAW frequently monitors its water and reports to the ADH on parameters that can contribute to corrosivity such as pH, alkalinity, and total dissolved solids. CAW and ADH reports consistently show lead levels in our system at very low or undetectable levels.  CAW’s next required regulatory monitoring period will be completed this year.

Prior to 1986 amendments to the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, we invested over 1 million dollars to replace more than 10,000 lead service lines between CAW’s water main and the customer’s water meter.  Today, CAW’s asset management plans for infrastructure replacement, along with support from the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock, are replacing other older piping materials that have reached the end of their useful lives.

If CAW customers have a concern about other sources of or exposure to lead in their environment, such as lead in paint, jewelry, older ceramics, toys and even lead sinkers used for fishing, they may find more information at the federal Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead.  While the horrible situation in Flint, Michigan has raised awareness about the possibility of lead in drinking water, statistics show that the potential for exposure to lead for CAW customers is much greater from sources other than local drinking water .

CAW customers that have concerns about lead in their drinking water may contact us to receive information on testing methods, access information 24 hours per day at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead, or call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline toll free at 1.800.426.4791.    If water has been stagnant in plumbing fixtures for an extended period of time, consumers can lower the risk of potential lead exposure, regardless of its level, by flushing their tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.  You may also find additional information via the following references:

Central Arkansas Water’s commitment to the safety of your drinking water is part of our responsibility to enhance the quality of life for Central Arkansas by delivering high-quality water and serving as responsible stewards of public health.  CAW takes its responsibilities seriously!