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7 things we learned about lead, local water infrastructure this year

Replacing aging water pipes in communities across Southwest Ohio could cost rate payers billions of dollars in coming years, as utilities work to remove potentially dangerous lead components from local water systems.

The Dayton Daily News has extensively covered water quality issues in the Miami Valley — work made possible by your subscription. This news organization reviewed hundreds of public records to analyze the water systems in nine local counties this year. Check out seven times we covered this important issue in your community in 2017:

1. Ohio water systems to map where lead pipes are located

A new Ohio law is tightening the notification and reporting processes for when elevated levels of lead are found in drinking water, and city officials are now mapping where lead pipes are located at in the public water systems. Ohio House Bill 512 went into effect in early September after Gov. John Kasich signed the legislation. The amendments and new law required the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to adopt rules to address lead notification and testing within 120 days after the effective date of H.B. 512, according to an OEPA fact sheet. READ MORE

2. Investigation: City working to identify lead pipes in water system

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Hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and businesses in Dayton are connected to water pipes made of lead, a toxic metal that could cause neurological, developmental and gastrointestinal issues in people — especially in children and pregnant women — who consume the poisonous substance. Most home or business owners aren’t aware of the danger, but a new state law forces cities like Dayton to better communicate the possibility through a tightened water drinking quality reporting process. READ MORE

3. Investigation: Aging water infrastructure could cost rate payers billions of dollars

Replacing aging water pipes in communities across Southwest Ohio could cost rate payers billions of dollars in coming years, as utilities work to remove potentially dangerous lead components from local water systems. The county, which developed an extensive map of its water infrastructure, found that about 75 percent of its system could potentially contain lead. Specifically, 60,786 homes, apartments or businesses served by the county could have lead services lines connected to their structures. Or if it doesn’t have lead pipes, the structures could also have lead solder within their own plumbing. READ MORE

4. Does your community have lead pipes?

The Dayton Daily News identified dozens of cities, counties, schools and businesses in Southwest Ohio that indicated there was a high probability of lead service lines in their systems. If a system submits the form, they have to prove the claim by showing historical permit records, local ordinances, distribution maintenance records or information about installation dates for all service lines. That does not account for the lead components that could be present on private property and in internal plumbing. READ MORE

5. Common Questions: What you should know about lead pipes, water quality

Water quality issues can be a complicated topic to grasp, and can often lead residents uneasy about consuming tap water. Local water utilities want to ensure customers that the water quality is strong in the Miami Valley. Here’s what to know about lead pipes and water. READ MORE

6. Report claims Ohio one of worst states for water quality offenses

Nearly one in four Americans — 77 million people in the U.S. — are drinking water that comes from untested or contaminated systems, and Ohio ranks as one of the worst states for offenses. A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found that there were nearly 80,000 violations impacting every state in the U.S. in 2015, but consequences were few and far between due to a lack of under-reporting and lax enforcement of environmental laws. READ MORE

7. Flint water crisis: Health chief charged with involuntary manslaughter

The chief official of the Michigan health department was charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Flint water crisis probe. Nick Lyon is accused of failing to tell the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014 to 2015. Lyon is the highest-ranking official in Rick Snyder’s administration be charged in the criminal investigation of Flint’s lead contaminated water. READ MORE

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