Sampling to Confirm Water Safety Begins

Press Release

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) is required by State and Federal laws to periodically test our drinking water for lead and copper residue. Baltimore initially was required to monitor at least 100 different taps once every year. Because the City’s water quality consistently exceeds the set standards, our lead and copper sampling frequency was reduced to 50 homes every three years.

This year Baltimore’s water system is again doing lead and copper monitoring and has mailed letters to the 50 identified locations. The most recent routine testing was done in 2015.

“Baltimore’s drinking water comes from protected source waters, and is essentially lead-free when it leaves our water filtration plants,” said DPW Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E. “In addition, our water distribution pipes are made of concrete or iron — materials that do not contain lead."

Customer properties are chosen for voluntary participation in the study based on the factors (age, location, and construction practices common at the time) that make them MOST likely to have lead in their plumbing. If a citizen receives a letter requesting participation in this important program, we ask that they please contact the Water Quality Laboratory at 410-396-0150 to provide their consent.

The simple testing involves taking “first-draw” samples of water that has stood in a residence’s pipes that have not been opened for a minimum of six hours. This is to capture any particles from inside the household plumbing that might have accumulated while the water sits undisturbed.

Lead can be released when the water comes in contact with plumbing fixtures that do contain lead. That is why DPW carefully treats its water with lime, an anti-corrosive agent which helps to prevent lead from leaching out of household plumbing. Customers who have concerns or questions about water quality at their homes or businesses can call 311 in Baltimore City, or 410-396-5352 in Baltimore County, to request testing.

To reduce possible exposure to lead, it is a good idea to run water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, or until it becomes cold before using it for cooking or drinking. This action allows water that has been sitting in household pipes to be replaced with the constantly moving water from the mains.

Baltimore water customers and the general public are also encouraged to review our annual Water Quality Reports:

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Jeffrey Raymond
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Kurt Kocher
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Jennifer Combs
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After hours, weekends, or holidays please call 410-396-3100 for the duty officer

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works supports the health, environment, and economy of our City and region by cleaning our neighborhoods and waterways and providing its customers with safe drinking water and sustainable energy practices.