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No, Boston's drinking water doesn't have lead in it - but some residents with old pipes might want to get them replaced

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission says most Boston residents can ignore the ominous, if vague, e-mail message they got yesterday warning them that its "lead and copper sampling results exceeded the acceptable action level in 2020."

In fact, the commission followed up today, after receiving lots of inquiries, Boston's water is lead free.

The issue is that some older homes still use lead pipes or pipes soldered with lead - to connect BWSC water mains to their homes, or maybe they're still using original brass fixtures made with lead, and it's people living in those homes who have a potential issue, one that was found by sampling in the fall of 2020.

People who either have lead pipes, or who are not sure but who live in homes built before 1950, should take two steps, the commission says: Run their water for a couple of minutes first thing in the morning, before drinking or cooking to clear out any lead that might have been leached out overnight; and consider getting their old pipes replaced.

The commission has a program to reimburse homeowners up to $2,000 for the work; for more info, call 617-989-7888.

Everybody else can stop worrying about that e-mail.

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Comments

Flint water supply also did not have lead in it.

Question is: What changed in Fall 2020 for samplings to exceed actionable EPA levels (not very safe to begin with)? Did people start installing new lead pipelines? Or is BWSC being deliberately obtuse?

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Voting closed 17

Hardeeehar har!

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Is there something in the pipes under the streets that are the potential source of the problem?

BWSC response is just standard home owner advice and is not based on new information. What is new is the test results. Have they just never tested before?

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It's been an issue for a long time. There's probably a regulatory requirement for them to notify the public (same as with salt), only they botched it with a vague notice that made it sound like we're the next Flint.

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Did something change in the chemistry of the water which makes it pick up more lead from pipes?

That’s what happened in Flint. It wasn’t that the new water source had more lead itself.

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It's not a new issue and our water's the same. The only difference was the commission sent out a vague warning that made it sound like we're all guzzling lead when, in fact, it's an issue for certain homeowners.

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Boston use to have the sweetest tasting water until those seven idiots were found trespassing in the Quabbin reservoir after hours in 2013.

How to screw up one of the largest man-made water supplies in the country with over 412 Billion gallons of water in one easy lesson

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A trespassing charge against seven people, made seven years ago, with no followup charges filed against anyone, is relevant because..?

*checks notes*

Ohhh, because the accused weren't white, and you have a pet theory that something that could be carried in a car, added to the reservoir seven years ago, that was undetectable at the time, would still impact our drinking water today. Got it.

While we're on it, is there anything you'd like to add about Communists and our precious bodily fluids?

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The point being, Mandrake, that shortly afterwards, the state took measures and added processes that changed the taste. That was my point and only my point.

Interesting how you interject race and political overtones in your response.

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Like?

According to the 2019 report, what is in MWRA water is:

IMAGE(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50709947933_469a6a8af0.jpg)

Most of what is seen here is pretty common.

The only other thing they do is send it thru UV light.

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Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the War Room.

But seriously, what changes were made?

The only processing change I can see, in this after-action report, was UV, which was "under construction" when the report was written, 2 days after the incident. And I think we all know that if it was already under construction 2 days afterwards, it had been under construction before the incident and unrelated.

https://mwraadvisoryboard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2013-05-016-Qua...

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And has anyone except this commenter decided Boston water tastes worse now?

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The tweet you referenced less than an hour ago has been deleted.

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If 5 homes were over, how many did they actually test? WTF BWSC.

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5 sounds really low until you realize they only tested 25.

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Source?

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And Ed Flynn posted a copy of their notice about the other notice.

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Cities treat their water to reduce the amount of lead that gets picked up. That’s why the water quality report includes a sampling of lead measurements at the tap.

It’s not really accurate to say it’s not the city’s pipes. The portion of the buildings service line under the street is the city’s responsibility, while under private property it’s owned by the homeowner.

The MWRA provides 100% grants to cities and towns to replace the remaining lead service lines. The grant covers both the city portion and the private portion.

Is Boston doing it? Somerville was going to, but it’s on hold due to COVID.

Cambridge is not eligible, since they only get MWRA water as an emergency backup. And Cambridge has no plans to do it on their own. So residents are stuck with the situation. Flushing the pipes every morning is better than nothing, but if that’s enough, why is the MWRA doing this?

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We have lead pipe connected to our 4-unit building and we contacted the Boston Water and Sewer Operations Department just last week about it. They said it would cost $16,000 to $18,0000 to replace it, using anyone from their list of approved excavators. The City of Boston will provide a $2,000 credit, but that's just a drop in the bucket. If there's a less expensive way to replace the pipe, I'm all ears.

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Unfortunately there's no cheaper option for the property owner. The city has to take up the MWRA's offer.

https://www.mwra.com/comsupport/llp/llpprogram.html has details. It's actually an interest-free loan to the city. And under this program the city doesn't have to fully fund the pipe replacement for the property owner -- it can be a partial subsidy. For whatever reason, Boston's $2000 program is not funded by the MWRA.

$2000 isn't perfect, but it's better than the zero Cambridge provides.

Is there something complicated about your site, or is it far from the street? That page says the $2000 grant often covers the full cost for small lots.

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The original story I saw on WCVB made it sound like they test a few houses at random on a regular basis. Are they saying now that all five houses they tested had lead/copper piping and they didn't confirm that and resample other homes to get a true reading???

I don't see evidence that the water is safe because the only numbers anyone has provided in all this were the high numbers from those five houses they sampled.

Either we aren't getting full stories or there just "sure" our water is safe...

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It sounds like they tested a sample of homes, and five of those had elevated lead.

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https://www.bwsc.org/environment-education/maproom/lead-service-map

Probably won’t make anyone feel any better

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but I guess without knowing if this covers 1%, 10%, or 99% of probable lead connection pipes it isn't too helpful (except for the places already confirmed).

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Are there really houses after 1950 in Boston? Houses, not apartment buildings.

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I live in an apartment in a house. The house is at least 100 years old.

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Yes.

The question is how many, but it's not zero.

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