TWW Lead Service Line Replacement Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Water Service Lines     About the Program     Lead in Drinking Water

Trenton Makes Bridge.jpg
 

English  -  Español

Water Service Lines

What is a water service line and who owns it?

Water service lines are the pipes that carry water from the Trenton Water Works's pipes in the street into homes/buildings.

TWW owns the water service lines from the main in the street to the curb stop. Individual property owners own the service line from the curb stop to the meter inside their home.

house.png

How do I know if I have a lead service line at my location?

You can visually inspect the water service line piping entering and inside your home. Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft and you can easily scratch them with a key or coin. If a pipe is made of lead, the area scratched will turn a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument, and be careful not to puncture a hole in the pipe. Galvanized steel pipe may also be lead lined or have a zinc coating with high lead content. Galvanized steel pipe is a gray metal color. When tapped with a screwdriver, it makes a metallic sound. Even if your service line is not lead, you may still have a lead gooseneck in the street.

Check your line by following our Material Verification Test.

You can purchase an EPA-approved lead test kit at www.epa.gov/lead/lead-test-kits
(The 3M Lead Check Swabs can also be used to check lead solder on copper plumbing and are available at Amazon)

You can also contact the Trenton Water Works at 609-989-3055 or TWWLeadProgram@Trentonnj.org to request an inspection.

About the Lead Service Line Replacement Program

How can I replace my lead service line?

If you recently received a notification to have your lead service line replaced, please complete the form provided with the letter, mail it to the address provided or take a picture and email the form to TWWLeadProgram@Trentonnj.org. You can also sign up via the program website on the Register page. Call 609-989-3055 if you’d like further assistance.

TWW has contracted with the engineering firm CDM Smith Inc. to oversee and manage the current phase of the program. The project will be bid to local contractors in the fall of 2018.

Representatives of these firms will contact you to review and discuss the work to be performed, obtain your permission to perform the work, arrange for a pre-construction survey of the areas where your service line will be replaced, and schedule the replacement work.

The replacement of your service line is estimated to take less than 8 hours. You will not have water service during this time. The contractor will make two small excavations (at the main and at the curb stop) and fully restore your property to existing conditions once the line is operational and tested.

Read about the entire process in the Replacement Guide, or download the poster.

How will the locations for lead service line removal be selected?

Letters were sent out in August 2018 to all homeowners with suspected lead service lines or galvanized steel service lines with lead goosenecks. If you respond “yes” to either letter, we will include you in the pool of participants for replacement at a discounted cost. The participants will then be prioritized based on several criteria such as density of children in the neighborhood, historic elevated lead levels in the neighborhood and coordination with other on-going work in the area.

  • If you responded “no” to the April 2018 letter or have not responded yet, please complete the new form or register online.

  • If you have previously replaced your portion of your water line, TWW will replace the TWW-owned side for free if it is lead or galvanized steel. Contact TWW at 609-989-3055 or by email at twwleadprogram@trentonnj.org to let us know.

How much will the replacement cost to the homeowner?

TWW is offering an opportunity for the homeowner to -have their lead service line replaced for a cost of $1,000. This can be paid in full or in 12 monthly installments at 0% interest with a payment plan set up through TWW’s billing office.

Why did I previously have to pay to have my privately-owned portion of my lead service line replaced?

TWW is applying for funding from the State through a new program that provides the opportunity to fully replace the entire lead service line at a discounted rate to customers.

What should I do after my lead service line is replaced?

The disruption to your service to remove and replace your lead service can temporarily affect your water quality, including increasing lead levels for a short time because the pipes have been disturbed.

  • After an initial flush of the replaced service line is completed by the contractor, remove the faucet aerators from all cold water taps in the home and fully open the water taps throughout the home for 30 minutes, starting at the lowest level. Be sure to include bathtubs and showers. When the last cold water tap on the highest level has flushed for 30 minutes, turn off each tap starting from the highest level of the home.

  • Always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula.

  • Regularly change or clean out all faucet screens and aerators. Contact Trenton Water Works at 609-989-3055 or by email at TWWLeadProgram@Trentonnj.org to get your water tested after replacement of your lead service line.

I pay for insurance specifically for my water service line. Does this cover the service line replacement?

Insurance companies, such as American Water Resources, are not affiliated with this project. They cover only repairs and breaks. They do not cover voluntary replacement.

Lead in Drinking Water

What are the risks of lead exposure?

Lead can cause health problems, such as damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys when people are exposed to it. Pregnant woman, infants, and young children are especially at risk.

What level of lead is safe to consume?

No level of lead is considered safe for consumption.

How can lead get into my drinking water?

When water leaves TWW’s Filtration Plant, it is lead free. The water mains in the street that transport water from the treatment plant are made mostly of iron and steel, and do not add lead to the drinking water.

Lead can get into drinking water from the plumbing inside your home or the service line between the street and your home. When water is stagnant in the service line or your home plumbing without being used for several hours, the lead may dissolve into the water. For example, these time periods include when the water is first drawn in the morning or in the afternoon after not being used all day.

If my lead service line is replaced, will all of the lead from in my drinking water be removed?

No. If you live in a home that was built prior to 1986, it is possible that lead solder was used at the joints of your interior piping. If you suspect that you have lead solder based on the age of your home, flush your system by running cold water for approximately 1 to 3 minutes whenever the water in your home has not been used for more than 6 hours. A licensed plumber can help evaluate whether or not you have lead material in your indoor plumbing, or you can use an EPA-approved lead test kit (see www.epa.gov/lead/lead-test-kits for more information).

Why do water service line and plumbing fixtures contain lead?

In Trenton, lead was commonly used for water service lines until 1960 and commonly used in household plumbing fixtures (faucets, valves, sinks, shower heads, hose bibs, etc.) and solder until 1986, when it was banned. From 1986 to 2014, plumbing fixtures could contain up to 8% lead to be categorized as, “Lead free”. However, current standards for “Lead free” fixtures allow no more than 0.25% of lead content.

Many homes and buildings, especially those built before 1986, may have service lines and/or internal plumbing and fixtures that are made of or contain lead.

What is TWW doing to lower lead levels in drinking water?

TWW is committed to providing you with safe, clean drinking water and lowering lead levels at the tap by:

  • Upgrading treatment at our Filtration Plant to make water less corrosive to minimize lead getting into the drinking water from lead service lines and plumbing fixtures.
  • Regularly sampling and testing the drinking water to monitor lead levels in accordance with all federal and state safety standards.
  • Removing and replacing lead service lines throughout TWW’s distribution system.

Can I get my water tested for lead?

Please contact the Trenton Water Works at 609-989-3055 or by email at TWWLeadProgram@Trentonnj.org to find out how to get your water tested for lead and/or request a service line inspection.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Signs of repeated lead exposure may include abdominal pain or cramps, aggressive behavior, constipation, sleep problems, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling in the extremities, memory loss, anemia and kidney dysfunction.

In children, long-term lead exposure can lead to intellectual disability and loss of developmental skills.
A high dose of lead poisoning may result in severe abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting, muscle weakness, stumbling when walking, seizures, coma and brain disease.

More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/

Can I get tested for exposure to lead?

Contact your doctor or local health care provider about a blood test for lead exposure or contact the health department in your municipality.

How can I reduce my exposure to lead?

  • Replace your lead service line.
  • Always buy plumbing fixtures (faucets, valves, sinks, shower heads, hose bibs, etc.) that have zero- or low-lead content. Read the labels of any new plumbing fixtures closely.
  • Run your cold water tap to flush out lead. Run the tap until water feels cold. Then fill a pitcher with fresh water and place in the refrigerator for future use.
  • Always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Do not boil water for the purpose of removing lead. Boiling water does not remove lead and can increase lead concentration in water.
  • Periodically remove and clean faucet screens and aerators.
  • Obtain a home water treatment device that is NSF certified to remove lead.
  • Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead and any copper piping with lead solder.
  • Water service lines are sometimes used to ground electrical lines. The wiring in your home or building may be attached to your water service line or elsewhere in your plumbing. If you have a lead service line, this can accelerate its corrosion. Have a licensed electrician check your wiring.
  • Be careful of dust from lead based paint. Even though lead based paint was outlawed in 1978, many older homes have not removed it and may currently be a hazard. The most common source of lead exposure is generated in the homes from the dust of lead based paint.
  • Be careful of other sources of lead in your home. Some household items such as pottery, makeup, toys, and jewelry may contain lead. Wash your children’s hands and toys often.