The City of Spokane has no lead pipes within its water system.
The City completed a major program to replace all remaining lead service lines in the City's water system in July of 2018. Between May 2016 and July 2018, the City replaced 486 service lines with copper pipe, ensuring greater public health throughout the City's water system.
The replaced lines represented less than 1 percent of the 75,000 service lines in the City system. Service lines connect the water distribution main in the street to the water meter at a home or business.
"Removing lead service lines is a major achievement in protecting public health for all. I applaud Spokane's aggressive effort to remove all known lead service lines from the City," Mike Means, Director of the Washington State Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water, said at the time. "Thanks to the hard work of City employees, Spokane's residents will continue to enjoy safe and reliable drinking water for years to come."
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 eliminated a potential contamination source. For information on Spokane water quality, go to our water quality information,.
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.
Originally, the City had nearly 1,000 lead service lines, but efforts to remove those pipes over the years cut that number in half. With the completion of this program, the City will continue its long-standing policy to remove any remaining water system parts made of lead whenever work is being done.
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.
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.