Home built before 1986? Expert says have water tested

Is the water at your home safe for you and your family to drink?  A new study by the National Resources Defense Council has found lead and copper violations in our area.

In Kentucky, the Cunningham Water District was flagged for exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead action level in their water in 2010. But since then — other than a reporting violation in Calloway County — water in our part of western Kentucky was not shown to violate EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule.

The World Health Organization has estimated 143,000 people die each year from lead exposure.

Although most water in our area makes the cut, your home’s age could make a difference for your family’s drinking water.

William Renzulli picked up everything to move to Paducah’s LowerTown district in a home he thinks is more than 100 years old. “For me, coming to this house and living here for 10 years, it wouldn’t occur to me to be worried,” he said. He’s not worried about whether the pipes in his house are contaminated with lead or copper.

Clean drinking water has been Bill Robertson’s job for more than 30 years as Paducah water’s manager. Although he says homes built after 1986 are definitely in the clear of contaminants, he knows how dangerous lead and copper can be. “It causes damage to the brain. It causes damage to the kidneys. It causes damage to their red blood cells,” Robertson said.

“First you have to have a source of lead. That could be a lead service line. It could be, in an older home, fixtures," Robertson says. If you live in an older house, you don’t automatically have to replace your copper with PVC. Robertson says to have your water tested first.

Other water districts in our Local 6 states made the list of violations, including Obion County, Tennessee, which had two violations. Kelly Brockman spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Conservation for Tennessee disputes those findings from the NRDC saying there were zero violations in Obion, Tennessee in 2015. She said there has been zero violations in more than 20 years. 

The findings from the NRDC includes violations that occurred in 2015 or were unresolved in 2015.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection says all water in both Kentucky counties in our area on the list — Calloway and Carlisle counties — is safe to drink. 

Wondering if your water is safe to drink? Click here for more on the NRDC study, with a map showing violations.

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