Traces of lead persist in Redwood City water

Local drinking water still contains trace levels of toxic lead, primarily from older pipes and fixtures in residential homes, according to a report released this week.

Although the level of lead in Redwood City drinking water does not exceed standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the level does not meet the California Public Health Department’s established goal of nearly eliminating the element entirely from the water supply, Redwood City Public Works Superintendent Justin Ezell said.

Lead, which is known to cause nervous-system damage in humans, was the only contaminant found in Redwood City drinking water.

The poisonous element was once used in pipeline alloys, including brass, particularly in older cities. Redwood City eliminated all lead-containing pipes in its public pipelines years ago, but some may remain in homes, Ezell said.

“The plumbing code changed in the 1980s and said you could no longer use lead in brass fittings,” Ezell said. “Homes built prior to that could still have brass fittings that could leach into the water.”

Redwood City took samples from a number of local homes in 2004 and 2006. When it came to lead, none of the samples exceeded the EPA standard of 15 parts per billion, but 45 percent exceeded the state goal of two parts per billion.

Representatives with the California Public Health Department did not return calls for comment, but local officials say the levels are not a cause for concern.

“On the West Coast, we don’t have the lead problems you see on the East Coast” because most municipal pipelines are newer, said Dean Peterson, director of the San Mateo County Department of Environmental Health.

“The water here is less aggressive to pipes, so it doesn’t pull the lead out as much,” he said.

To combat the lead levels in residents’ water supply, Redwood City is advising locals to replace older brass fittings and lead-containing pipes, or just let the tap water flow for 15 to 20 seconds before using.

City Council members asked Ezell this week to begin sending these tips to residents with their monthly water bill.

Redwood City, with much of San Mateo County, is supplied drinking water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is operated by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“It’s difficult to compel people to replace things that are in their homes,” because it can be expensive and time-consuming, SFPUC spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocalPeninsula

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read