Old lead pipes could spell trouble for Salt Lake City residents.

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Two weeks ago, Atlanta, Georgia, was without water for several days, and in some neighborhoods, people are still being told to boil their water. More than 1.2 million people get drinking water from the Chattahoochee River, but their water pipes are nearly 100 years old, corroded, and deteriorating.

The photos of urban geysers around the city are astonishing. The water company says there are usually 30 water main bursts per month, far fewer than in Utah's larger cities.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new rules on lead and copper pipes and requires water companies across the United States to document all water pipe materials in their districts. In 1991, the EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water and continues to update the data and reporting requirements. This is extremely important because older pipes are often made of lead and/or copper and prolonged exposure to these elements can cause health problems ranging from stomach upset to brain damage.

The Salt Lake City Utilities Department has sent out a notice to homeowners to conduct an inspection of their pipes in their own homes to find out what material they are made of. The Salt Lake City Utilities Department is responsible for the main water line to the water meter in your home, and residents are responsible for the water line from the meter to their home.

Our government wants to know if you've replaced your service line and, if so, with what material. Lead has been banned in plumbing materials since 1986, but that doesn't mean there are no longer lead pipes buried in the ground carrying water to your home.

We were randomly asked to fill out a survey about our pipes, but since we are not plumbers, we aren't sure what is going on, so we are being offered a free water sample and home inspection by SLCDPU this week.

Would I have to rip out all of our pipes immediately if they're lead or copper? I hope not, but then again, I don't want lead in my water! Anyone can fill out the survey and also get a free home visit to find out what's going on with your pipes. The team at SLCDPU wants people to know that our water is safe and is regularly tested for lead and other harmful contaminants in the distribution system. To take the survey, go to www.slcleadandcopper.com or call 844-532-3752 for more information.

More than 60% of the drinking water available on the Wasatch Front comes from our mountain streams in our canyons. In the summer, the flow is supplemented by deep wells in the valleys, and although we've had another year of heavy snow in the northern part of the state, we're still experiencing drought here.

As of March 2024, about 31% of the state is still experiencing unusual dry conditions. Additionally, much of the state's water system is quite outdated, and the lines in Logan and Odgen are currently being repaired, so who knows when Utah's next water break will come.

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