Snohomish residents to be asked to see if pipes are of lead

SNOHOMISH —  A selection of city residents will soon be receiving postcards asking them to state whether their pipes are made of lead.
It’s part of a federal audit that has the goal to get rid of lead pipes.
The ask is for people to find an exposed pipe to do the check. These pipes may be found in a crawlspace or basement, said Liz Johns, a specialist with a consulting company which the city is working with.
Some homes won’t get a postcard because they have already been verified through records, Johns said.
As a rule of thumb, homes built after 1986 would not have lead pipes.
But don’t toss the postcard because of house age. If you get this card, officials will reach out if you don’t reply.
“Anyone who can’t ID the pipe can still take a picture and submit it in and we can oftentimes verify through that so they likely wouldn’t need a swab” that can be used to test for lead, Johns said. “Anyone who can’t find their pipe or isn’t able to get us all the information that is needed will still need some sort of verification.”
You can ask the city to come to your house to help do the check for you, an example postcard says.
Flint, Michigan’s contaminated drinking water scandal provoked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to instruct local governments to thoroughly search for lead pipes at every address.
What if you have a lead pipe?
Residents would need to replace any lead pipes at their own cost. The city could help defray the cost using government grant money as one option, Johns said.
Leaden gooseneck connections must also be replaced when they are attached to galvanized pipes.
If you have lead pipes and really don’t want to replace them, there is an option to sign a waiver. However, under new federal rules any lead pipes must eventually be replaced when the house gets passed down through inheritance or is sold.
If nobody makes a declaration of what pipes your home has, federal officials will make an default assumption you have lead pipes in its database, Johns said.
“Please check them so we can mark it off as ‘good to go,’” Johns said.
If the city finds it has any public pipes made of lead, it, too, will have to replace them even if they are safe. The firm and final deadline to do so is Oct. 16, 2024.
In Flint, their lead pipes had corroded, and that let lead leach into the drinking water. That is a rare situation, Johns said. Generally, lead water pipes are safe.
The city contract to hire 120Water as a drinking water program management consultant cost under $50,000, city officials said.