Report: Scott County co-op exceeded lead standard for water in 2013

By Gary Scott on May 13, 2016 at 1:20pm

A new report from the “Chicago Tribune” shows there is one local water system that has had lead levels in water exceed standards set by state regulators.

The “Tribune” has found that nearly two-hundred other public water systems in the state have test results that exceeded the federal EPA lead standards at least once in the past 12 years.

The data shows the Scott County Rural Water Cooperative exceeded EPA “action levels” for lead in 2013. The level is 15 parts per billion; the water co-op tested a sample that yielded 15.85 parts per billion.

Local water operators generally aren’t required to notify homeowners when the fail a lead test, and the federal rules give them wide latitude when it comes to remedial steps.

“We purchase all of our water from either the City of Winchester or the Village of South Jacksonville. I would say if there was lead in the water, it probably either came from our source or from an individual home, because you can pick up water from the home where we actually take the samples. We have so many samples we have to take in the area,” says Ron Coultas with the Scott Rural Water Co-op.

The “Tribune” data shows the highest Winchester scored on lead levels was 6.65 parts per billion in 2007, and South Jacksonville scored a 5.4 in 2014.

Another possibility is the distribution system.

“Everything we’ve got in the ground is basically plastic. I don’t think there’s much in the way of lead, except possibly that we’ve got some pressure reducers, which, we could get some from that. We have some pretty high pressure in part of our system,” explains Coultas.

“I think about a year or so ago, they required the manufacturer and us to use only lead-free fittings, and I know the pressure reducers and valves were one of those things that apparently did have a minimal amount of lead in it,” he adds.

The EPA tests for lead concentration at the 90th percentile, meaning more than 10 percent of the water system exceeded 15.85 parts per billion for the Scott water co-op.

Several other water systems in the four-county area came close to exceeding EPA standards for lead in water. Rockbridge in Greene County clocked in at 14.7 parts per billion in 2009. Also in Scott County, Bluffs’ water system tested for 13.1 parts per billion in 2013.

You can view the full list from the Chicago Tribune of water testing for water systems in Morgan, Scott, Greene and Cass Counties by clicking here.