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The City of Minot continues to gather information about what type of water service lines are installed in homes and business around the community, but residents can help by conducting simple tests on their water lines and completing a short online survey.
The federal Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act went into effect in January 2014. The act has reduced the amount of lead content in water systems and plumbing products by changing the definition of lead free in the Safe Drinking Water Act from not more than 8 percent lead content to not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and plumbing fixtures. The SDWA prohibits the use of these products in the installation or repair of any public water system or facility providing water for human consumption if they do not meet the lead free requirement.
The federal Lead and Copper Rule Revisions took effect in December 2021, which triggered the need for communities to take inventory of water service lines.
As part of the program, the EPA created an interactive mapping system for cities across the country to document the type of water service lines in use. The map includes different colored categories for lead, assumed lead, galvanized requiring replacement, non-lead, and unknown. There’s a lot of grey on Minot’s map, though, meaning there’s a high number of properties where the City doesn’t know what type of water line was installed.
The City has reviewed all its records related to water lines, and that information has been entered into the map. Now, officials want to update the map as accurately as possible before it’s submitted to the EPA by October 2024. Minot’s map and a link to a lead service line survey is available at https://geohub-minotnd.hub.arcgis.com/pages/division-water
There are several methods homeowners can use to determine what type of water service line is in their house. First, locate the water service line entering the structure. Typically, these are found in the basement, and have a valve and water meter installed on the pipe after the point of entry.
-Scratch test. Carefully scratch the surface of the pipe with a flathead screwdriver. Each type of pipe will produce a different scratch. If the scraped area is shiny and silver, the pipe is lead. If the scraped area looks like the color of a penny, the pipe is copper. If the scratched area remains a dull gray color, the pipe is galvanized steel.
-Magnet test. A magnet will stick to a galvanized steel pipe, but will not stick to copper or lead pipes.
-Tapping test. Tapping a lead pipe with a coin produces a dull noise. Tapping a copper pipe or a galvanized steel pipe with a coin produces a metallic ringing noise.
Lead can enter drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode. The most common sources of lead are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures. Lead service lines that connect a home to the water main are typically the most significant source of lead. Lead pipes are more likely to be found in homes built before 1986.
Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels than in adults. Children can be exposed to lead in paint, dust, soil, air, and food, as well as drinking water.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can lead to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia. In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma, and even death.
In adults, exposure to lead can cause cardiovascular effects including increased blood pressure and hypertension, decreased kidney function, and reproductive problems in both men and women.