Why is corrosion control so important in our water systems?

Posted in: Municipal, Water

Lead (Pb) test

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) has been around in various iterations since 1991; however, it is currently going through more substantive changes due to a compelling need to clarify its implementation requirements. The Flint, Michigan Crisis is the unfortunate impetus needed for this necessary overhaul.

The water crisis in Flint was caused by improperly-treated water from the Flint River. Lead leached from aging water pipes into the drinking water, exposing residents to unsafe levels. Lead is a neurotoxin related to a whole host of health problems, and children are most profoundly affected. Childhood lead exposure has been connected to low IQ, hyperactivity, aggression, and an increased risk of neurological disorders in adulthood.  A successful treatment system has since been implemented.

As a water/wastewater engineer, I am fortunate enough to play a role in reducing high lead and copper levels in our drinking water systems when they are found to be above EPA’s established action levels. Mitigation includes designing corrosion control systems using addition of a phosphate or silicate-based corrosion inhibitor, though a variety of technical solutions also include alkalinity and pH adjustment. These solutions change the water chemistry so the amount of metal leaching into the water is reduced. Continued monitoring of the drinking water distribution system is critical for long term operations.

I plan on staying informed on updates to the LCR, and I am sure I will continue to blog about this important topic. It is vital those of us in the water/wastewater industry stay informed so that we can affect positive change in the lives of those we serve.

Shannon Saramaa, PE

About the Author

Shannon Saramaa, P.E., is a member of Mead & Hunt’s water and wastewater team. A true entrepreneur with innovation in her heart, Shannon founded a municipal water and wastewater consulting firm that continues to serve numerous Colorado utility districts, cities, institutions and other water and wastewater providers. Shannon now goes forward in the same spirit as a member of Mead & Hunt.

Read more posts by Shannon Saramaa, PE

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