Seattle’s Clean Water Supply

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Cedar River watershedI’ve been reading about the city of Flint, Michigan, where local, state, and federal government agencies utterly failed to protect its population from lead in its water supply. When that city switched its water supply to the Flint River, it did not add to the water anti-corrosive chemicals that prevent lead in pipes from seeping into the water. As a result, the residents have been poisoned by their own water for nearly two years. It’s a horrible story.

Lead poisoning is not to be taken lightly. The Centers for Disease Control states that there is no safe blood lead level in children; the damage to development can be permanent.

Flint’s story led me to ask Seattle Public Utilities about our drinking water here in Seattle. Fortunately, we have a much better system in place to protect our water supply: We have protected watersheds that supply excellent source water. We have a state accredited lab that runs every day of the year, where chemists, microbiologists and limnologists (what is limnology?) analyze more than 20,000 samples and produce more than 150,000 test results annually. We have more than 150 sampling stations throughout Seattle and the Utility’s wholesale systems. We monitor for lead continuously and don’t have it in our source water.

The Utility’s latest water quality report is here. We are indeed blessed with an abundant and very clean city water supply.

But, individual users still could have water quality issues if the pipes between the city supply pipes and your faucet are bad. Older homes may also contain lead contamination from lead paint. If you are planning a remodel or a demolition of an older home, make sure you take steps to mitigate for lead exposure.