South Blount Utility Urges Customers to ‘Get the Lead Out’

There is nothing more important to South Blount Utility than providing our customers with safe, reliable, affordable water.  As part of this mission, we want to help keep your household safe from lead.  Although, lead does not occur naturally in the SBCUD’s water supply, nor is it a result of the treatment or distribution processes at our plant. In our area, lead in drinking water is most commonly caused by lead-based solder used to join copper piping in home plumbing systems. Tennessee banned the use of solders containing lead in 1988, so only homes built before the ban are potentially affected. 

Lead is a powerful toxin that is harmful to human health. Infants, young children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead because it accumulates in the body. There is no identified “safe” level of lead so, wherever possible, households should seek to reduce and eliminate exposure.

Lead can slowly dissolve into the water or break off in tiny particles. To protect our customers, South Blount Utility monitors and adjusts the water’s chemistry to prevent corrosion that may result in lead at the tap. We also sample water for lead at high-risk homes in the community. If no part of your service line or plumbing contains lead, your household is likely not at risk. However, the only way to be certain is to have your water tested by a certified laboratory or your utility and to inspect — with the help of a licensed plumber — your household plumbing for lead components.

If you do find that your household plumbing is contributing lead to your drinking water, there are several steps you should take to reduce exposure. For instance, if water has not been used for several hours, run the tap to ensure you are getting fresh water from the main. Use only cold water for drinking and cooking, and clean faucet aerators regularly to ensure they are free of lead particles. Finally, if your water has elevated levels of lead, consider purchasing a home filter certified to remove lead. Find out more on filter certification at www.nsf.org. Ultimately, the best way to protect your household is by removing all potential sources of lead. 

More information about testing options and other steps you can take to reduce lead exposure are available by calling our Customer Service Department at (865) 982-3560.

Help us eliminate this threat to your drinking water. Together, let’s get the lead out!

Testing for Lead

How to have your water tested for lead:

Lead in tap water typically comes from either the pipe connecting older homes to the water system or from plumbing within the home itself. Therefore, to find out if you have lead in your water, you must test the water inside the home.

Testing your water is easier and less expensive than you may think. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the quality of tap water, recommends sending samples to a certified laboratory for analysis. EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline, at 800-426-4791, can provide a list of qualified labs in our area. 

Depending upon the company, a technician may come to your home to collect the sample. However, most will mail you a sampling kit, which you complete and return for analysis. If you are using the mail-in approach, the kit will include instructions. To maximize the accuracy of your results, it is very important to follow the directions. Here are a few key points, which will also likely be included in the sample collection instructions:
  • Collect samples from a tap that has not been used for at least six hours, because lead dissolves into water slowly. For best results, draw the sample first thing in the morning.
  • Do not run the water before drawing the sample. The water collected for analysis should be the “first draw” from the tap.
  • Be sure to use a kitchen or bathroom cold water tap that has been used for drinking or cooking water during the past few weeks.
  • Do not clean or remove the faucet aerator prior to sampling. You want tests to account for any particles of lead that may have accumulated in the aerator basket.
  • Place the opened sample bottle below the faucet and open the cold water tap as you would do to fill a glass of water.
Results are generally available within two weeks and will rarely take longer than a month. If lead is shown to be present, please contact South Blount Utility (865) 982-3560 for guidance. At South Blount Utility District, we care about the quality of your drinking water and your family’s health.