Response to Tacoma/Seattle New Lead Concerns

We understand your concerns with water safety due to Tacoma Water’s recently identified lead issues in the news, and Seattle Public Utilities’ recent response, recommending customers run water before drinking.  The following information is to help explain the issue and how to make sure you are safe.

  • Our water source, supplied from the Seattle Public Utilities system, does not contain lead. However, lead can leach into water from home plumbing systems built with lead-based solder, brass fixtures, or some types of old zinc coatings used on galvanized pipes and fittings.   Both Seattle and Tacoma have much older infrastructure than we have at Northshore Utility District.
  • The cities of Tacoma and Seattle suspect lead-related issues associated with older galvanized piping systems and lead “gooseneck” fittings.  Northshore Utility District uses plastic service lines and has replaced nearly all older galvanized lines with plastic.  We estimate that only a very small fraction of our existing water service lines – perhaps as few as 200 out of the 22,000 – are not plastic.  Northshore has no record of any “gooseneck” leaded connections being installed within the Districts system, which triggered the Tacoma and Seattle concerns.
  • If older plumbing is a concern, it is recommended that residents follow Washington State Department of Health guidelines:
    • Run water for two minutes before using it if the water has not been run for more than six hours.
    • It is also always best to use cold water for consumption since lead dissolves more quickly from plumbing materials in hot water.
  • For peace of mind, you can also contact a local testing lab to test for lead, such as AmTest Labs in Kirkland.  The cost for the test is approximately $25.
  • You do not need a sterile container.
  • Fill a clean plastic bottle (Talking Rain, Dasani, etc.) with a minimum of one liter of water.
  • Take the water sample from the cold side of a tap that has been dormant for at least 8 hours (the time of dormancy is very important).  Labs recommend using the kitchen faucet first thing in the morning if it has not been used.
  • Use the first draw from the tap – do not let the tap run first.
  • Take the sample to the lab.