Portsmouth Water Division launches water pipe inspection program

PORTSMOUTH — The city's water department is inspecting the pipes that supply drinking water to homes and businesses as part of a new federal rule.

The Lead and Copper Rule Improvements issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in November 2023 require all water utilities to identify the material in their water supply pipes by October 16, 2024.

Authorities say Portsmouth's water supply sources do not contain measurable amounts of lead because the city's corrosion control program is effective in minimizing potential lead contamination in the public water system. However, they said the metal could be found in components of household plumbing systems and water supply pipes.

“It is important for the City of Portsmouth and public water systems across the country to understand the age and design of their distribution networks to protect the quality of our drinking water,” said Water Director and DPW Deputy Director Brian F. Goetz. “It is equally important for property owners to know whether their private service line may contain lead. These efforts ultimately benefit both the water department and customers by identifying and removing harmful lead components when found.”

Portsmouth has approximately 8,400 water customers.

Everyone has a public line from the street to their property and a private line from there to their building. The city knows what the public pipes are made of, but not the private ones.

Of the 8,400 water utilities, the DPW Water Division has identified utility line materials for 6,800 customers, leaving approximately 1,600 private water lines requiring inventory.

Starting in early February, the water department will send notification letters to the 1,600 properties asking those customers to schedule a 10-minute visit by city staff to identify the material type. During the visit, a DPW employee enters the property and inspects the water supply line connected to the water meter. There are no costs for this work. Once the pipe material is identified, staff updates the water service inventory and provides the information to the property owner.

If the property owner or tenant would prefer to identify the service line material themselves, they can visit the City's website at portsnh.co/ServiceLineID for further instructions. For more detailed information on inventory overhead, visit portsnh.co/servicelineinventory. For more information about the City's Copper and Lead Program, visit https://portsnh.co/LeadCopperProgram.

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