News Feature | August 23, 2016

Fresno Bans Galvanized Pipes Amid Lead Scare

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

City leaders in Fresno, CA, voted last week to join a growing number of California cities banning the use of galvanized pipe for plumbing in new constructions over concerns about lead in drinking water.

“The ban is part of the city’s response to problems at a growing number of homes in northeast Fresno reporting discoloration — and in some homes, toxic lead — in the water coming from corroded galvanized pipes. The homes are in the area of the city served by canal water processed by the city’s Northeast Surface Water Treatment plant,” The Fresno Bee reported.

The city called on one of the nation’s most prominent water experts to address its water quality struggles. Marc Edwards, a professor at Virginia Tech, was among the first to call out the lead contamination crisis in Flint. He also helped uncover and document Washington D.C.’s lead crisis earlier in the century.

Fresno seemed to show signs of high lead levels. Along with discoloration in some homes, a woman exacerbated local concerns about quality when she announced she had lead poisoning.

Nevertheless, Edwards was reassuring about the state of Fresno’s water.

"There's really no evidence that Fresno is having a problem with lead in water, according to EPA definition," he said, per ABC 30.

Edwards’ diagnosis for Fresno: Corrosion occurred when it switched from well water to river water.

"The new surface water that was brought online was not being treated in a manner that could control iron corrosion problems, specifically galvanized iron corrosion problems," Edwards said, per the report. "And across the country that is not that uncommon, because there is no law that focuses a utilities attention on minimizing galvanized iron corrosion."

Edwards noted the differences between lead pipes and galvanized plumbing.

“He said the law only requires utilities to control corrosion in lead and copper pipes, not galvanized plumbing — which he said is no longer recommended for use. He believes the city's current efforts to adjust the chemical and PH balance of the water will improve, but not cure the discolored water in Northeast Fresno,” according to the report.

To read more about pipe corrosion visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.