Some drinking water can contain lead in undesirable amounts. At Portsmouth Water we treat your drinking water through a harmless conditioning process to reduce the level of lead leaching into your drinking water. Water does not contain traces of lead when it leaves the treatment works.
For a long time, generally up to 1970, lead was used for some water pipes. Part of or the entire service pipe connecting the water main in the street to your kitchen tap may be made of lead. If your home has been modernised since 1970 and all of its pipework replaced from our stop valve outside your home to the kitchen tap, there should be no lead pipe on your property.
If your home was built:
If you are unsure, you can make a simple check:
Inside your home
Look in or behind the cupboards in your kitchen. You may also need to look in other places, e.g. the cupboard under the stairs. Find the pipe leading to the kitchen tap. Check if it is lead along as much of its length as possible. Unpainted lead pipes are dull grey. They are also soft. If you scrape the surface gently with a knife, you will see the shiny, silver-coloured metal beneath.
Outside your home
Open the flap of the stop valve outside your property. Examine the pipe leading from the stop valve to the property. If you can, scrape its surface gently with a knife. It may not be possible to do this in some cases as access may be difficult.
Other pipe materials in common use are:
Copper - bright, hard and dull brown
Iron - dark, very hard and may be rusty
Plastic - may be grey, black or blue.
Who Is Responsible For The Pipework?
The part of the service pipe which links the water main in the street to the stop valve outside your property belongs to us.
The part of the service pipe leading from the stop valve outside your property to the point where it enters your home is your responsibility if you are the owner; otherwise it is your landlord's.
How Can I Find Out If There Is Lead In My Drinking Water?
If your home has lead pipes, your drinking water may sometimes contain levels of lead. We can tell you how likely this is. We regularly take samples of the water supplied to individual properties in your area and test them for lead. If necessary we can take a sample from your home and tell you the results. If you would like to request this service please telephone the Laboratory on 02392 449083.
What Can I Do To Reduce Lead Levels?
If lead pipes are causing high lead levels in your drinking water, you can take some simple short-term precautions:
Do not drink water that has been standing in the pipes for long periods, for example, overnight, or if no one has been in for several hours.
In these circumstances, draw off a washing-up bowlful of water from the kitchen tap to clear the water which has been standing in the pipes. This need not be wasted but can be used on the garden or for something other than drinking or cooking. If the length of lead pipes exceeds 40 metres, more than a bowlful of water will need to be drawn off.
You can then use the water from the kitchen tap as usual.
If you have any lead pipework between the stop valve outside your home and your kitchen tap, the best solution is to replace it.
If you do that, you can ask us to replace our part of the service pipe between the water main in the street and the stop valve. We do this free of charge.
Make sure that removing lead water pipes does not reduce electrical safety by removing earthing. Ask your electricity supplier if in doubt.
For more information on lead pipes and how to replace your pipe please contact us on 02392 449088 and ask to speak to our Water Regulations Department.