Hampstead, Manchester to test water Procedure to look for lead, copper NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

September 08, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Hampstead and Manchester are looking for a few good plumbing systems.

Residents of these towns may receive letters requesting their participation in a federally mandated program to test for lead and copper in drinking water.

Operators of public water systems throughout the country are required to perform the tests.

If lead or copper is found in residential water, the local water treatment plant may have to change its methods, said Steven Miller, Manchester's water and waste water superintendent.

The test procedure is not difficult. The town would deliver a one-liter water bottle to selected homes. Residents would be asked, on a selected day, to fill the bottle from a cold-water tap the first thing in the morning, after no water in the home has been used for at least six hours. The town would collect the filled bottles and send them to a lab for testing.

The problem is finding enough homes that meet test requirements.

Hampstead Town Manager John A. Riley said officials there have been told they must test water in 20 homes built between 1982 and 1986. The test homes must be single-family homes with lead-soldered copper pipes and should be scattered throughout the town. Homes that have plastic pipes, filtering systems or water softeners are not suitable for the tests.

Mr. Riley said there are enough homes in Hampstead that meet these requirements, but it is taking a while to find them.

At the Aug. 16 Town Council meeting, Mr. Riley said he had written to 30 homeowners requesting their participation. Ten responded and only two said they would, or could, participate.

Another batch of letters brought more success, and the town has recruited 11 homes for the study.

"We're halfway there," Mr. Riley said.

More letters are now going out.

The hunt is on in Manchester as well. Mr. Miller said that town has enough homes that meet the requirements. Letters sent to a few dozen homes produced about 10 positive responses.

Mr. Miller said Manchester originally had scheduled the testing for August, but many homeowners said they would be on vacation on the test day. The testing has now been tentatively rescheduled for late September or early October.

The testing is required by the Environmental Protection Agency and is administered by the state of Maryland, Mr. Riley said.

The cost will be borne by the towns. Mr. Riley said the tests will cost Hampstead about $400 plus staff time.

Mr. Miller said Manchester's cost could reach $500, and that the tests may have to be repeated in six months.

The presence of lead or copper in water taken from faucets in private homes would mean the elements are leaching out of pipes and solder, he said. If there is a problem, a water system can correct it by changing the way water is treated to reduce leaching.

"I feel pretty confident that we don't have a big problem," Mr. Miller said. He said copper in the water has not been detected at the treatment plant.

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