Customer Information

Lead and Copper Service Lines

Under Ohio law (HB 512) established in June 2016, public water systems were required to identify areas that are known to contain or likely to contain lead and copper service lines by March 2017. The law requires community water systems to identify and map areas of their distribution systems that are known or likely to contain lead/copper waterlines lines that service residential and business customers. The maps will be used by Ohio EPA to ensure that the proper lead and copper sampling is done in areas of lead service lines.

What is the District doing about Lead and Copper Lines?

The first step is identifying areas with possible lead/copper service lines. Over the past year, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District has reviewed historic building data, tap records and maintenance logs to identify lead and copper pipes. The District has maps available that are in compliance with EPA regulations. These maps are broken down by public water system and water providers.

Lead and Copper Locations

The Northwestern Water and Sewer District serves approximately 19,800 water customers in Wood, Sandusky and Hancock counties. The good news, less than 1% of our customers had or were likely to have service lines.

Our findings discovered approximately 425 lead service connections in our service area. Lead have been detected in areas that are supplied with water from the City of Toledo. The District distributes water to this area and is responsible for maintaining the distribution system. This water service area has existing water mains dating back to the 1920s. Municipal water systems with lead service lines provide a chemical addition (orthophosphates and polyphosphates) in their treatment process to inhibit corrosion of water mains and plumbing. The use of phosphates in water helps to prevent the release of lead into the water lines.

District Lead/Copper Replacement

Although a small amount of our system is impacted, it’s important to the District to ensure we deliver quality water to our customers. Ever since the District was formed twenty seven years ago, we have been replacing lead service lines during routine maintenance. Starting this year, The District will implement a $400,000 program to replace all known lead service connections over the next three years.

If you have any questions regarding lead service lines, please contact the Northwestern Water and Sewer District Operations Department at 419-353-9090


Although over 99% of The District’s water customer’s service lines were found to be lead free, through Ohio EPA compliance testing, the District has detected lead in some homes. Samples for these tests were taken from homes that have, or are expected to have, lead service lines or internal building plumbing.

Lead enters drinking water through corrosion in lead pipes or plumbing materials. The source of lead in water could be old service lines that connect homes to the water main in the street. These service lines are a joint responsibility. The District owns the portion of the line from the water main to the curb, and homeowners are responsible for the portion from the curb to their home.

Additional sources of lead in water include:

  • Interior lead pipe
  • Interior galvanized pipe (especially if there was, or is, a full or partial lead service line)
  • Interior copper pipe with lead soldered joints (installed prior to 1988)
  • Interior plumbing fixtures (purchased or installed prior to January 2014 before the effective date of new definition of “lead-free”)

What can I do to reduce risk of exposure to lead?

If you know or suspect that you have lead service lines or plumbing, there are ways to reduce your exposure to lead in your drinking water:

  • Run your water to flush out lead. If you haven’t used your water for several hours, run your cold tap for one minute before using for cooking or drinking. Homes with longer lead water service lines may require flushing for a longer period of time. Using toilets, washing clothes, showering, or doing dishes before you drink from your tap are all ways that you can flush your service line without wasting water.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Lead dissolves more easily in hot water. Do not drink, cook with, or make baby formula using hot water.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  • Look for alternative sources or treatment of water. Purchase an NSF/ANSI 53 water filter that is certified to remove lead. Customers can also choose to drink bottled water.
  • Identify if your plumbing fixtures contain lead. There are commercially-available lead check swabs that can detect lead on plumbing surfaces such as solder and pipes. Consider having lead-containing pipes and fixtures replaced.
  • Get your child’s blood tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure.

What the District doing to reduce lead in water?

The District has identified lead service lines and will remove identified lines in public space. Currently, lead pipes are being replaced during maintenance operations. Over the next three years, the District will replace all known lead service lines in public space.

What can you do?

First, customers can test to see if they have lead service lines in their plumbing. THIS LINK provides a visual test to identify lead pipes. If customers have questions regarding lead service lines inside their homes they should contact a licensed plumber for information. To find out when The District replace their portion of the lead service line, contact our offices at 419-354-9090 for more information.

What is lead?

Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes. The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint in older homes. Lead in drinking water can add to that exposure.

Uses for lead?

Lead is sometimes used in household plumbing materials or in water service lines used to bring water from the main to the home. Lead was banned from plumbing materials used to provide water for human consumption in 1986. The Safe Drinking Water Act states that only “lead free” pipe, solder, or flux may be used in the installation or repair of plumbing materials.

Action Level for Treatment Technique = 0.015 milligrams per Liter (mg/L) or 0.015 parts per million (ppm)

Maximum Contaminant Level Goal MCLG = 0 mg/L or 0 ppm

Sources of Contamination

Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits.
Click here to see a diagram of typical household lead sources.

Health Effects

Children: Delays in physical or mental development
Adults: Kidney problems, high blood pressure

How can we help you?