Lead found in some Ashland drinking water

Lead in some Ashland drinking water

The City of Ashland Water Utility found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes or buildings during the monitoring period in the last six months of 2023.

Ashland, like many municipalities, does periodic monitoring of water quality not only at their treatment center but also for certain homes and businesses. 40 sample sites are tested for lead on a regular basis. 

“The sample sites that we picked, all of those sample sites have lead lead piping,” said City of Ashland Public Works Director Josh Butler.  “We pick those 40 sample sites to kind of represent the worst possible conditions.”

Of the 40 testing sites, five had lead levels in exceedance of the maximum contaminant level in samples taken in the last half of 2023. 

“It’s known that they have lead piping between the main in the home or interior plumbing,” said Butler. “They should be aware that there’s a risk of lead migrating into the water supply, but where those materials are not present and copper or plastic piping is now used, that’s not presenting a risk of led exposure because the water is leaving our plant lead free.”

In Wisconsin, half the piping between the main and the building is owned by the municipality. The City of Ashland does eight to ten blocks of water main replacement per year and plans on keeping that pace until all of the city-owned lead piping is replaced.

“We work to remove the municipal iron piping and solid piping. Once we do that, we notify the property owner and say, ‘hey, we’ve taken steps to remove our portion of the lead. You’re now required to participate in a DNR-funded program for financial assistance to replace your side,” said Butler. 

Health risks from lead exposure include damage to the brain, kidneys, and nervous system. The greatest risk is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. In children, lead can slow development or cause learning, behavior, or hearing problems.