The Bordentown City Board of Commissioners is set to serve as the host to a meeting this month that will be aimed to inform and update residents on the community’s ongoing water situation.
Bordentown City officials said the meeting is an outreach effort on the education of testing water for lead and what homeowners can do to limit exposure to internal plumbing issues affecting their drinking water.
The meeting is scheduled for July 24 at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Carslake Community Center on Crosswicks Street in Bordentown City.
The community meeting comes on the heels of recent, additional testing that city officials have performed throughout the past several months.
Since the municipality’s last informative meeting in January regarding this matter, Bordentown City Commissioner Joe Myers said that the data collected since earlier this year has focused on tests performed in homes and on public services.
City officials said their data found 75% of homes that experienced a lead exceedance also have lead solder in their interior plumbing, which presents a potential issue for residents with homes built before 1988.
In homes built before 1988, lead piping and lead solder were commonly used in household plumbing systems as well as in service lines that connect homes to street water mains.
In 1986, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of lead pipes and lead solder in plumbing systems because excessive lead levels can present dangerous health risks.
The EPA set an “action level” of .015 milligrams per liter of water for lead. EPA officials said that levels higher than that in water could pose a risk to human health.
To date, the municipality also reported that 29 services have been tested for lead and all services uncovered have been plastic and/or copper; no lead services have been found, according to city officials.
Most recently, the city said further tests performed on 10 hydrants throughout the distribution system, which included locations with nearby homes that reported exceedances the levels were found below the action level for lead.
“Those are two pretty big stats that we have been working on for the past few months, but we are continuing to work on collecting more information,” Myers said.
Previous tests for lead exceedances at the city’s water source and water treatment facility have also reported “to be significantly below the action level” in compliance with the state’s standards and limits.
Myers explained that based on the municipality’s most recent data collected to date, the potential risk of lead in homeowner’s drinking water points to a discrepancy with interior plumbing.
“Based on the data we’ve collected, I would like to think that we have made substantial progress in the past few months,” he said. “There’s certainly still a lot of work to do, but when you look at the following points, there’s a lot of progress and it all points back to a theme we have been saying about interior plumbing.”
In response to the city’s collected data, which reported lead levels to be below the action level or virtually not present at the municipality’s source or within its services, Myers said that the city has been consistently working with residents to test their water.
“What we have been doing is going into the homeowner’s house where we have been doing work with them, talking with them and doing a test, and what we have found that is about 75% of those homes have lead solder in their interior plumbing,” he reported.
Although a majority of these homes were reported to have potentially experience lead exceedances potentially linked to interior fixtures, Myers explained that the in some cases among the 25% of other homes reported with an exceedance resulted with discrepancies in the testing.
“In some instances is that there’s a flaw in the test itself has a flaw in it,” he said.
The city commissioner said that in instances where a home was reported with a high exceedance, the homeowner’s process to test their water for lead was taken from a basement sink or bathroom throughout the house. According to Myers, this is not the protocol for the test.
“The guidelines for the test require the water to be taken from a ‘drinking fountain’ in your house, which is typically interpreted to be your kitchen sink,” he said. “There’s other variables that are contributing towards it, and when you start to add that together, that’s a pretty high number.”
The municipality said it’s committed to further testing in the upcoming months as well as remaining open to accept requests from residents to have their water tested, but officials reported that methods already implemented last year to reduce the risk of lead exposure are still in effect.
One of these methods implemented by the city in 2018 was the introduction of orthophosphates to the municipality’s service lines. Officials said that the orthophosphates are aimed to serve as a protective layer to form a barrier to corrosion in its lines, reducing dissolution of lead into the water.
“We still have a few months where the state says it takes a while for the product to go through the system for its best effect, so we still have more time with that, but I certainly think we are moving in the right direction,” Myers said.
For residents with questions and concerns with their water, city officials encourage residents to contact Myers at 609-556-7837.