Guidance on Lead in Drinking Water

Guidance on Lead in Drinking Water
Posted on 11/03/2016

Guidance on Lead in Drinking Water

Given recent news coverage, many people in Lane County have questions about lead in drinking water. Public water systems regularly test for lead, copper and other contaminants. In Lane County, most lead in drinking water comes not from the public water systems, but rather from plumbing at the point of use. Contact your public water system (such as EWEB or SUB) for information on recent lead and copper testing; these results are also available online. Consumers may test for lead levels in their households through an accredited laboratory - see list here [link updated, 2021].

The Lane County Drinking Water program supports testing of drinking water systems for contaminants of recognized concern. For those systems contaminated by lead, it offers the following recommendations:

  • Hand-washing, bathing, showering, dish washing, laundry - these tasks are generally fine with water that has an exceedance in lead. Lead in water is not absorbed through the skin in significant amounts.

  • Flush all drinking water lines first thing in the morning to remove any water that has been standing in the water lines overnight. The more time water has been sitting in pipes, the more lead it may contain.

  • Anytime the water in a particular faucet has not been used for six hours or longer, "flush" cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get. This could take as little as five to thirty seconds and as long as two minutes or more. 

Information about water testing in schools: 
  • Schools which are on small public water systems test for lead in their water system on a regular basis. Any questions regarding small public water systems can be directed to Lane County Environmental Health at 541-682-4480 [contact info updated, 2021].

  • The Lane County Drinking Water Program does not regulate any of the schools which are on large public water systems (EWEB, SUB, City of Veneta, Junction City, City of Cottage Grove, etc.).

Please find additional guidance from the Oregon Health Authority on lead in drinking water here