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Frequently Asked Questions

General Program

What is Charlotte Water’s Lead Reduction Program?

The Lead Reduction Program is Charlotte Water’s effort to achieve compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule. These revisions include requirements for utilities to create and maintain an inventory of water service lines in their service area, develop a lead sampling plan for all schools in the utility’s service area, and provide public education about the presence and effects of lead in drinking water.

What are the current regulations on lead regarding drinking water?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recognizes the danger lead poses in drinking water. In 1991, the USEPA issued the Lead & Copper Rule mandating water systems adjust their water chemistry to control corrosion which would limit lead leaching into the water. As of December 2021, revisions and additional requirements have been added to the Lead and Copper Rule that must be complied to by October 16, 2024. Additional information on the Lead and Copper Rule and the most recent revisions can be found at https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/revised-lead-and-copper-rule

What is a water service line and who owns it?

A water service line is the pipe that connects a water main to an individual property. The portion leading from the water main to the meter is maintained by Charlotte Water. The portion leading from the curb stop to the water meter is maintained by the property owner.

Does Charlotte Water have lead water service lines?

Charlotte is a younger city and is less likely to have lead water service lines (lead lines stopped being installed in the 1980s). A main goal of the Lead Reduction Program is to determine if there are lead water service lines within Charlotte Water’s service area.

How is Charlotte Water identifying lead water service lines and prioritizing their replacement?

Charlotte Water is using predictive modeling to predict the location of water service lines requiring replacement. Water service line replacements will be prioritized according to building age and community need.

How will I be notified if my home is selected for field investigations or water service line replacement?

You will be contacted directly by Charlotte Water through a letter and/or a personal visit.

I live in an apartment building. Will I be notified if a lead water service line is found?

Charlotte Water will coordinate directly with your landlord if lead water service lines or other water service lines requiring replacement are found at an apartment complex. Contact your landlord with any concerns about lead exposure from the plumbing in your apartment building.

I performed a visual inspection of my water service line. What if I can't determine my water service line material?

If you have performed a visual inspection and are still not sure about the material of your water service line, try the scratch and magnet test. If you are still unable to identify your water service line material call Charlotte’s 311 helpline or your local plumber.

Who is responsible if internal plumbing or fixture replacement is needed?

Property owners are responsible for replacing their internal plumbing, faucets, and fixtures. Certified lead-free pipes, faucets and fixtures purchased in 2014 or later do not carry any risk of lead.

What initiatives are in place to increase public education and awareness?

Charlotte Water is distributing education materials to all customers participating in field investigation activities or water service line replacements. Additionally, information about the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions is included in the latest Water Quality Report. More information on the Lead and Copper rule can be found on the EPA’s website: epa.gov/dwreginfo/lead-and-copper-rule.

Who should I contact with questions?

For questions not answered by this FAQ list, please visit the Lead Reduction Program website at charlottewater.org/lead or call Charlotte Water’s 311 helpline.

Water Quality

How does lead get into drinking water?

Lead can enter water from the corrosion of lead pipes and plumbing materials that contain lead. Sources of lead in drinking water include lead water service lines, lead solder, brass faucets/fittings and galvanized steel pipes.

If my lead water service line is replaced will all of the lead in my drinking water be removed?

Replacing a lead water service line will lower your risk of exposure to lead in drinking water. There are potentially additional sources of lead in internal plumbing, which include lead pipes, lead solder on plumbing and older faucets/fixtures.

Do I still need a water filter if I do not have a lead water service line?

If your home contains lead solder on plumbing and older brass faucets/fittings, it is recommended to use a certified water filter. To determine the amount of lead in your drinking water use a lead sampling kit.

How do I know if my home is at risk?

Homes built after 1986 are less likely to have lead water service lines. Additional sources of lead can include lead solder, brass faucets/fittings and Galvanized steel pipes previously downsteam of lead pipes. The most effective way to check for lead is by getting your water tested for lead through the purchase of a lead test kit.

What about the faucets and plumbing inside my home?

Faucets and plumbing manufactured before 2014 can contain up to 8% lead even if considered “lead-free.” To avoid potential exposure to lead from your faucets and plumbing, replace older faucets and plumbing with those made in 2014 or later.

My water smells unusual or is discolored. Does this mean I have lead in my water?

These qualities are not indicative of lead in your drinking water. Lead is odorless, tasteless and cannot be seen when dissolved in water.

What is Charlotte's current water quality?

Charlotte Water releases a yearly water quality report. Water quality reports from the past 6 years can be found at this link: https://www.charlottenc.gov/water/Water-Quality

Can I get my water tested for lead?

Charlotte Water Laboratory Services can test water from your home upon request. You can call 311 to request a sample kit and receive further instructions

Health Information

If I have a lead water service line how can I reduce my exposure to lead?

To minimize your lead exposure, use a pitcher filter certified to remove lead before drinking or cooking with tap water, and use cold tap water whenever possible for cooking and drinking.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Signs of repeated lead exposure may include abdominal pain or cramps, aggressive behavior, constipation, sleep problems, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling in the extremities, memory loss, anemia and kidney dysfunction.

What are the health effects of lead exposure?

Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable because the ill effects of lead exposure are triggered at lower levels compared to adults. In children under the age of 7, lead exposure has been linked to behavior and learning issues, slowed growth and hearing problems. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from cardiovascular effects, decreased kidney function and reproductive problems.

How can I get tested for exposure to lead?

Contact your doctor or local health care provider about a blood test for lead exposure or contact the health department in your municipality.

Can I shower in lead-contaminated water?

Yes. Bathing, showering and washing clothes are safe to do with lead-exposed water. Lead cannot be absorbed through human skin.

How can I be exposed to lead?

The most common cause of lead exposure from drinking water is corrosion of lead water service lines and home plumbing devices.

Should I be concerned about lead in my water at home?

Lead pipes are more common in older cities. Charlotte is a young city, when compared to some other cities across the nation. Much of its development has occurred in the past three decades – well after the original ban on lead plumbing legislation was passed in 1986 – so Charlotte’s infrastructure is newer and includes more current water service line materials after lead has been banned. Exposure to lead can also occur in older brass faucets/fixtures, lead solder/connectors or galvanized steel pipes.

What level of lead is safe to consume?

No level of lead is considered safe to consume.

What should I do If my water tests positive for high lead levels?

Immediately stop using the water for drinking and cooking. Notify Charlotte Water via 311 (or a local plumber) and they can help identify potential sources of lead, including the presence of a lead water service line, old plumbing fixtures, faucets, etc.

What sources of lead exist in the environment?

Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, soil, water and even inside our homes. Exposure to lead can come from paint, dust, gasoline, batteries, plumbing and even food.

Field Investigation

Do I need to give my permission to Charlotte Water to be on my property?

Charlotte Water will provide all selected homeowners with a right of entry form prior to the work being scheduled. This form grants Charlotte Water the right to enter the property for the purpose of assessing the owner’s water service line material and accurately reporting said material in the City’s Water Service Line Inventory. To access a copy of the right of entry form, click here.

Who will be coming to my property to conduct the field investigation?

Charlotte Water and its contractors will be conducting the field investigation on your property.

What will happen during the field investigation?

Crews will use vacuum excavation methods to expose the water service line on both sides of the water meter. They will test the material of the water service line and record the results. Restoration will occur as needed.

What is a vacuum excavation?

Vacuum Excavation uses high pressure air to create a small hole in the earth and then suctions all dirt and debris using a vacuum

Will my water be turned off?

No. Your water will remain on while the field investigation is taking place.

How long will this take?

Investigation activities will take no more than one day once contractors have initiated the water service line investigation. You will be notified of the results at the end of the investigation by Charlotte Water field staff or contractors.

Will Charlotte Water need access to my home?

Charlotte Water will not need to enter your home. All field activities will occur outside the home, typically in the yard or street.

Will my plumbing or home be damaged in the process?

No. Charlotte Water will not be conducting any work that has potential to damage your home.

What happens if the field staff causes a leak in my pipe?

If the field staff causes a leak to your water service line, then Charlotte Water will replace the water service line. If a leak occurs after the field staff has left the property, please contact 311. If field staff identifies a preexisting leak in your water service line, the line will not be replaced.

Will my yard, driveway, and/or street be restored?

Yes. Any damage toyour property will be restored as close as possible to its original condition.

Can I decline this service?

Yes. If selected for field investigation, Charlotte Water will contact you with pertinent information and the opportunity to accept or decline access to your property for this activity.

Does this mean Charlotte Water thinks I have lead pipes?

No. Charlotte Water has strategically selected your home for investigation. Knowledge of your water service line material will improve predictions of your neighbor’s water service line materials.

If lead is found, will the pipes be replaced?

If lead is found in the portion of the water service line owned by Charlotte Water, that portion will be replaced.

Can you check if my internal plumbing has lead while you are checking my water service line?

No. This investigation is limited to the water service line and associated connections.

When will my water be safe to drink?

If your water service line is identified as a non-lead material, your water is safe to drink. If your water service line is found to be lead or galvanized pipe requiring replacement, a pitcher filter will be provided to you by Charlotte Water. The pitcher will remove any traces of lead that may be in the water.

Who is most at risk in my household if Charlotte Water identifies a lead water service line?

Children and pregnant people are most at risk from exposure to lead. Children can experience developmental issues and learning disorders from lead exposure. Pregnant people can suffer from miscarriages and premature births.

How will I be notified of the results of the investigation?

Charlotte Water will contact you directly with the results.

Will the results of the excavation be made publicly available?

Yes. After all surveys have been completed within Charlotte Water’s service area, the results will be made publicly available.

If I have a lead water service line, how can I minimize my exposure to lead?

To minimize your lead exposure, use the pitcher filter provided by Charlotte Water. It is also recommended to use cold tap water whenever possible for cooking and drinking.