Arlington Water Utilities Completes Lead and Copper Testing
By Traci Peterson
Posted on October 17, 2018, October 17, 2018


Arlington Water Utilities recently completed required lead and copper tap water testing and the news is great for residents.

Results gathered this summer showed zero samples reading above the EPA-mandated action level for lead or copper. The City is required under federal and state regulation to collect lead and copper analysis samples every three years and submit them to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). In the state of Texas, the federal program is administered by the TCEQ. Because of its history of testing results registering well below established limits, Arlington's lead testing frequency was decreased from every six months to a three-year schedule by the TCEQ.

"The testing protocols established by the EPA provide residents with standards they can rely on when they have questions about lead and copper in their public water supply," Ashley Wolfe, Arlington Water Utilities laboratory specialist, said. "The recent results show us that corrosion control preventative measures are working throughout the city, even into the far reaches of the water distribution system, including into the customer's own home. These measures ensure protection from metals leaching into the water, primarily from the pipes and fixtures inside older homes."

The Lead and Copper Rule, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program, is designed to minimize lead and copper levels in drinking water to protect the public health. If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. Older homes are more likely to have plumbing fixtures containing lead.

The EPA's action limit is 15 parts per billion for lead and 1.3 parts per million for copper. A part per billion is equivalent to about one drop of water in a swimming pool; while a part per million is equivalent to about a cup of water in a swimming pool.

Arlington is required to test for lead and copper in 50 samples from homes that meet federal requirements and are approved by the state. The EPA's rule states that 10 percent of samples exceeding the action limit would qualify as a violation for Arlington.

Since testing started in 1993, and with over 500 samples analyzed from all over the city, Arlington Water Utilities has only had one sample ever exceed the action limit of 15 ppb for lead, and that was in 2015. The action limit for copper has never been exceeded.

National news about children and families in Flint, Mich., and elsewhere being exposed to dangerous levels of lead in drinking water have led to questions over the past few years about lead and copper testing. In 2016, Arlington Water Utilities teamed with the Arlington ISD and Mansfield ISD to proactively test water fountains and kitchen faucets in Arlington schools for lead levels. In all, Arlington Water Utilities tested 2,340 samples, and results were provided to each school district.

In addition to lead and copper testing, the samples collected this summer were also tested for 12 water quality parameters monitored by the City, said Tony Young, Arlington Water laboratory analyst. He said those results are used to determine if the water is aggressive or corrosive toward distribution mains and household plumbing. The best way to reduce the action level of lead and copper is through corrosion control.

"For these samples we tested the metals: calcium, iron, manganese, and sodium," said Young. "We were also required to test for: total alkalinity, chloride, conductivity, sulfate, and total dissolved solids."

Laboratory Services Manager Ann Lawson said the TCEQ encourages cities to use the same set of homes during each lead and copper testing cycle. So, Arlington created a database of 100 customers who have previously participated in the testing and had been approved based on the age of home and fixtures present.

Since residents must collect the samples from their own faucets and submit them to Arlington Water, a big challenge that is faced every three years is obtaining 50 participants, according to Lawson. Samples need to come from the first draw of water in the day from a heavily used water faucet, like the kitchen sink. The water needs to have sat in the pipes for a minimum of six hours and a maximum of 18 hours, according to testing requirements.

Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure risk is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791) or at

For more information about Arlington water quality and testing, visit the City's annual Consumer Confidence Report at

Government, Headlines, News, Water Utilities