Lead in your environment

Last reviewed:

Lead used to be common in the environment due to its historic use in petrol, paint and water service pipes, as well as natural occurrence in soils from local geological conditions.

When the water leaves our treatment works it contains virtually no lead.

However, if you have a lead service pipe or internal plumbing, small amounts of lead may dissolve in the water.

The service pipe joins our water main to your property. This is divided into two parts:

  • The communication pipe - owned by us
  • The supply pipe - owned by you

Our communication pipe starts at the water main and usually runs to the outside stop valve at your property boundary. Your supply pipe starts at the outside stop valve at your property boundary and ends at your inside stop valve. All plumbing inside your home is your responsibility.

Lead in our region

As the water in our region is hard, limescale builds up within the pipes preventing the lead from dissolving into the water. As a result, lead levels are low.

In addition, we add a small amount of phosphate to most of our water, which acts like limescale, reducing lead levels even further. Phosphate at such levels is not harmful and is about 500 times lower than the phosphate levels in milk.

We check lead levels regularly by taking samples from randomly selected customers' properties. We can give you a report of the water tested in your local area (water supply zone) free on request.

Regulatory lead limits

The current UK standard for the concentrations of lead in drinking water is a maximum of 10 micrograms per litre (µg/l) or parts per billion (ppb) . This applies to cold drinking water from your tap.

Although these levels are safe, the Department of Health recommends you should try to reduce lead levels even further, particularly if you are pregnant or have young children.

All readings above 10 µg/e are declared to any customers who may be affected and the Environmental Health Department within the relevant local authority.

If we identify any properties with a trace of lead higher than 10 µg/l, we will replace the communication pipe free of charge.