© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oklahoma City begins search to root out lead water service lines

A lead service line. It's kind of a dull, powdery silver.
Graycen Wheeler
Lead service lines are more common in older buildings.

Oklahoma City has begun a survey to map out which neighborhoods are most at risk for having lead water service lines.

A service line runs from a public water main to a home or business. Today, they’re usually made with plastic or copper, but older ones might be lead, cast iron or galvanized steel.

OKC’s inventory will look at 8,500 homes built before 1987. If your home has been chosen, you’ll receive a postcard in the mail. Being selected for the survey doesn’t necessarily mean you have a lead service line, but it does mean a city contractor will dig two 8” holes in your yard near the water meter to check. The contractor will refill the holes and come back to resod them.

Public water supplies test for lead and make sure there’s not too much in the drinking water that leaves their treatment plant. Oklahoma City doesn't have any detectable lead in the water leaving its plant. But if that water later travels through a corroded lead service line, it can pick up some lead and carry it to customers. Large water supplies are required to add chemicals to their drinking water that prevent lead pipes from corroding and contaminating the water. Still, service lines are the largest source of lead in drinking water across the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring all public water supplies to inventory their service lines before October 2024, so they can target mitigation projects. Oklahoma City said it will publish its plan for lead service pipe replacement before that deadline.

A diagram shows that the city is responsible for the service line from the water main to the meter, but homeowners are responsible between the meter and the tap.
City of Oklahoma City
* indicates required

Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content