City to hold public meeting to discuss lead testing results

After a recent drinking water test of Amsterdam homes, the city is holding a public meeting next week to educate the public about the test results, as well as to explain the city’s past sampling practices and future plans to address the problem of lead contamination.

According to Chief Water Treatment Plant Operator Randy Gardinier, testing earlier this year found that seven homes out of 60 tested showed lead levels that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s “action level” of 15 parts per billion.  The EPA requires that if the 90th percentile sample is over the limit, that the city must take steps to inform the public.

Gardinier said the recent testing is part of the city’s effort to comply with EPA requirements to test only “tier one” homes for lead. The term “tier one” is used to describe homes that have either lead service lines, lead plumbing, or copper plumbing with lead solder joints. Gardinier said that previously, the city was testing a combination of homes that may or may not have met the classification.

According to Gardinier, 13 of the 60 samples showed no detectable amounts of lead, which shows that the source of the lead is not from the city’s water system, but rather from service lines or home plumbing. Additionally, he said that 15 of the samples showed less than 2 parts lead per billion.

Earlier in the year, the city asked for volunteers to participate in the testing program. City staff visited the homes of residents who indicated they believed there was lead plumbing or solder joints in their home in order to confirm they met the “tier one” classification. Residents were given sample bottles to fill which were then picked up by city staff. Results of the tests were mailed to each resident. Gardinier says the city plans to test the same houses again in September.

The public meeting will be held Monday August 27 at 6:30pm in the council chambers at Amsterdam City Hall and will include time for questions from the public.

According to a press release from the water treatment plant, residents can take the following steps to mitigate lead in their drinking water:

  • If it hasn’t been used for several hours, run water for 15-30 seconds to flush lead from interior plumbing or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  • Look for alternative drinking water sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter.
  • Test your water for lead. Call the water treatment plant at 518 843-3009 to find out how to get your water tested.
  • You may also call 518-402-7650 or visit the New York State Department of health website to participate in a free testing program.
  • Get your child’s blood tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure.
  • Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.