TACOMA, Wash - Seattle homeowners are getting the all clear. After two days of extensive testing for lead, Seattle Public Utilities say the water is safe to drink. They conducted the tests after high levels of lead were found in four homes in Tacoma.
“You don't play with lead, I come from the old school,” says homeowner Nathaniel Williams.
He upgraded his plumbing a few years ago, because his Tacoma home was built in the 1800s. He got rid of all the galvanized pipes in his home to protect against lead poisoning.
“At time you got this brown color coming through, so I knew I had to change out all I could, ” he says.
Now he’s learning that may not be enough. High levels of lead have been found at several of his neighbor’s homes.
Tacoma Water says it’s because of an outdated pipe called a gooseneck. It sends water from the mainline to a customer’s home. They say the potentially toxic goosenecks might still be in use in 1700 different locations in the city. Tacoma Water sent letters to customers who might be affected this weekend.
“It sounds like it's not every house,” says Williams. “It's certain houses that have that connection that is going to the house.”
After hearing about the problems in Tacoma, Seattle Public Utilities decided to do some testing of their own.
“We deliberately picked sites built prior to 1930 and that have galvanized service lines connecting them,” says Drinking Water Quality Manager Wylie Harper. “That was an era where the lead goosenecks were more commonly used.”
He says the results that came back today are well below the level for concern, so Seattle customers can use their faucets freely again.
But Tacoma homeowners are still being told to be cautious. High levels of lead were found at Andrea Berger’s home. She has a young son, so she says she’s going to be using bottled water until she’s sure the water from her tap is safe.
“I don`t want him having high levels of lead in his system, that`s scary," she says.
Berger took her son to be tested for lead poisoning. Unfortunately, their doctor said it might take a couple weeks for results to come back.