Information about Lead Levels in Water Sources

You may have read recent news articles about lead levels in some water sources and a call for the Iowa Legislature to do more.We want to ensure you that Des Moines Water Works is proactive. We have and will continue to test for and guard against concentrations of lead in residents’ drinking water.

Generally, finished drinking water contains no lead. Lead may be present in piping and plumbing fixtures found in customers’ homes. DMWW’s water production specialists and chemists monitor water quality on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis to ensure the drinking water that is produced does not contain and will not release lead from pipes or home fixtures.

DMWW maintains a map of neighborhoods with known taps installed before 1940 that may have lead service lines. There are an estimated 20,000 of these in the city. DMWW conducts annual tests at select homes in these areas to check lead levels. As a result of this testing, DMWW has no reason to believe there are elevated levels of lead.
Customers can call customer service at 515-283-8700 to determine what year the water connection for their home was made. Those who are identified as potentially having a lead service line may have water from their home tested for lead by DMWW free of charge.

What can you do to limit exposure to elevated levels of lead?

  • Use only water from the cold tap for drinking, cooking, or preparing baby formula.
  • Flush the tap for two to four minutes before using water for drinking or cooking when no water has been used for several hours. Showering, washing dishes or doing laundry can be effective ways to flush household plumbing before water is used for drinking or cooking. 
  • While in-home water treatment devices such as softeners or filtration systems are not necessary in Des Moines, if such in-home treatment devices are used, they must be properly operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Improperly operated in-home treatment devices can increase the potential for water to become corrosive.
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