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MISSION VIEJO : Water District Plans Testing for Lead

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The residents of more than 400 homes have been asked to volunteer to have their water systems tested for lead.

Last May, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that water districts would be required to target certain “high-risk” homes built between 1982 and 1988. The pipelines in most of these residences were installed using lead solder, which can leach into the water supply, according to water officials.

Santa Margarita Water District officials say they will choose 85 residences to test sometime in January for lead and 15 other metals.

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“We want people who receive the letter to be encouraged to participate,” said Bill Knitz, Santa Margarita Water District general manager. “Unfortunately we can’t use at-large volunteers for the study because it would skew the data, causing the results to not be scientifically significant.”

Residents with concerns or questions about their water systems can contact the district, Knitz added. The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s safety standards require lead levels in water to be less than 15 parts per billion.

Officials of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California warn homeowners who have their pipes replaced to make sure contractors use lead-free solder.

According to the water officials, lead solder has a dull gray finish and can be cut with a knife. Lead-free solders have a shiny finish.

Santa Margarita Water District experts say that brass fixtures can also contain lead.

“Although it is unlikely that levels would exceed federal limits,” said Bob Jordon, district laboratory supervisor, “lead can also occur in water if a home’s copper plumbing has connections utilizing lead solder or fixtures that have been manufactured from brass that contains lead.”

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