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childhood lead poisoning prevention branch

Lead Service Line Replacement

Water service lines are the pipes and joints (also known as "fittings") that connect the plumbing in your home to the water main under the street. Service lines that contain lead are called lead service lines. California public water utilities are replacing lead service lines that they own (i.e., the section that runs from the water main to your water meter) over the next ten years. Water utilities are not responsible for replacing private service lines owned by the homeowner or customers served by private wells. Check if your local water utility has a lead service line replacement (LSLR) timeline, and where and when it will happen on the California Waterboards' LSLR Status Map Update (Excel spreadsheet). The lead service line replacement process may be changing in California. This web page will be updated as changes occur.

Diagram of a water service line and property line for water utility and homeowner

Why is this important?

Lead is a toxic metal that has been used in many products over time. Lead can get into drinking water when a lead service line corrodes, is removed, or is replaced. Lead exposure can harm children's brains, lower IQs, and affect learning and behavior. Children younger than six years old are at higher risk because their bodies are growing rapidly.

How can I learn if my service line or tap water has lead?

  • Contact your local water utility to learn if you have a lead service line or for recommendations on testing if it is made from lead.
  • Review your Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as an annual drinking water quality report, from your water supplier. Your CCR tells you where your water comes from and what's in it.
  • Inspect your home's pipes and fittings (PDF) (only pre-2010 plumbing fixtures have lead). You may have lead service lines if they are grey, appear silvery when easily scratched with a key, and a magnet does not stick to them. You can also contact your local water utility for help.
    • Note on galvanized pipes: Houses built during the 1960s and earlier often have galvanized water pipes. The process to make galvanized pipes can include small amounts of lead. When galvanized pipes get old and rusty, the lead can get into the drinking water. Galvanized pipes are a dull, silver-grey color. Strong magnets will usually cling to galvanized pipes.

What can I do now to keep my family safe?

  • If you are worried about your child being exposed to lead from water or other sources, ask their doctor for a blood lead test.
  • Flush pipes that have not been used for more than 6 hours until the water feels very cold. To save water, collect the running water and use it to water plants not intended for eating.
  • Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and baby formula. If water needs to be heated, use cold tap water and heat on the stove or in a microwave. Hot tap water is more likely to have lead in it. Boiling water does not remove lead.
  • Consider using a water filter registered to treat lead. Learn how to identify filters certified to reduce lead (PDF) by the certification marks on the packaging. When lead service lines are replaced, utilities will provide residents with a water filter and instructions to flush their pipes.
  • Periodically clean your water faucet's aerator (screen) to remove contaminants.

Where can I get more information?

Screen shot of the LSLR infographicView/download the infographic - Bilingual (English/Spanish) (PDF) with information about LSLR and tips for keeping your family lead-safe.

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