Lead Pipes

The City of Spokane launched a program in May 2016 to replace all the remaining lead service lines in the City's water system. The work is being done by City crews at no cost to the homeowner.

As of June 2018, 441 of 486 lead services lines have been replaced. Work is continuing on the remaining 45 lead service lines, and Water Department officials expect to complete the replacement program this summer. The lead pipes have been replaced with copper pipe.

The City's water system has routinely met all water quality standards for lead, determined through regular mandatory testing for lead in the City's water system including at homes with lead service lines. Water from the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer is less corrosive than most surface water sources because it is hard and not acidic. Still, removing the pipes eliminates a potential contamination source. For information on Spokane water quality, go to our water quality information,.

"Removing the lead connections in our system just made sense," Mayor David Condon said about the program. "Protecting public health has to be the priority, and this program has provided sensible action to reduce health risks for some residents."

When the program was announced two years ago, lead service lines accounted for less than one percent of the City's 75,000 service connections. Originally, the City had nearly 1,000 lead service lines. The number was reduced over time under a long-standing policy to remove lead pipes and parts made of lead whenever work is being done.

Lead service lines were installed in the early to mid-1940s when World War II efforts made other materials scarce; many of the lead connections are found in the Shadle area of Northwest Spokane.Service lines connect the water distribution main in the street to the water meter at a home or business. In most cases, lead is found only on the City’s side of the service line, but if the lead service line continues onto private property, that pipe also is replaced. The replacement program cost about $3 million. Funding planned for other repairs was reprioritized to this project.

Homes with a lead service connection

Letters have been sent to property owners and tenants at residences with lead service connections. Water Department staff will coordinate with homeowners to get access to the meter and ensure that all lead material is found and replaced. There is no cost to the homeowner.

If your home has a lead service line, you are asked to call the Water Department between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 625-7827 to schedule an evaluation appointment. After 4 p.m., please call 509.625.7800.

If citizens want to confirm whether they have a lead service line, they can look up the information on the City's web site or by calling the Water Department at 625-7800. Here are the steps to use the on-line map:

  • Go to http://maps.spokanecity.org/.
  • Search for an address and zoom in.
  • Turn on the 'water' layer under utilities.
  • Click on the blue line that leads to your property; it will say the service line is copper or galvanized or lead. Some say unknown. Those individuals can get more information by calling the Water Department at 509.625.7800.

Health information

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is all around us. It was used for many years in paints, plumbing and other products found in and around homes. If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children.

For residents with lead service lines, the Washington State Department of Health suggests a few simple steps to reduce the risk of ingesting lead through drinking water:

  • Let the water run until cold before filling a glass to help flush out water that has been sitting in the pipes and is more likely to contain lead.
  • Use cold water for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula. Hot water can cause lead to leach into the water at a higher rate.

The Department of Health reports that lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of lead exposures. Houses built before 1978 are likely to contain lead-based paint. More information on lead-based paints is found on the web at the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting page or the Washington State Lead-Based Paint program.

More information on lead and potential health risks is available on the Department of Health's web site.