DPW Water Division Seeks Customer Assistance to Identify Material in Private Water Lines

February 6, 2024

In November 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Lead and Copper Rule Improvement requirement that all water suppliers complete an inventory of the material in all water service lines – the pipes that deliver drinking water from the public water mains into abutting properties. The City of Portsmouth Water Division will visually inspect water service lines where they enter residential and commercial buildings to determine the material type. The new EPA revisions to the existing rule require water suppliers to complete their inventories by October 16, 2024.

The City of Portsmouth water supply sources do not contain measurable quantities of lead; however, this metal may exist in components of household plumbing systems and water service lines. The City currently conducts regularly scheduled lead testing in accordance with federal and state requirements to ensure Portsmouth’s Corrosion Control Program is effectively minimizing potential exposures to lead in the public water system.

There are approximately 8,400 water customer connections throughout Portsmouth. Each water connection consists of two components: (1) the publicly owned pipe that runs from the water main in the street to the shutoff valve on the customer’s property, and (2) the privately-owned plumbing that runs from the shutoff valve into the building. Of the 8,400 water services, the City has identified service line materials for 6,800 customers, leaving approximately 1,600 privately- owned water service lines that must be inventoried.

Starting in early February 2024, the Water Division will send notification letters to the 1,600 properties with unidentified service lines, asking those customers to schedule a 10-minute visit by a member of the City staff to identify the material type. During the visit, a DPW staff member with proper City identification will enter the property and inspect the water service line connected to the water meter. There is no cost for this work. Once the pipe material is identified, DPW Water Division staff will update the water service line inventory and share the information with the property owner.

If the property owner or tenant would rather identify the service line material themselves, they can visit the City’s website at portsnh.co/ServiceLineID for further instructions. More detailed information about this inventory effort can be found here: portsnh.co/servicelineinventory. For more information about the City’s Copper and Lead program, visit: https://portsnh.co/LeadCopperProgram

“It is important for the City of Portsmouth and public water systems nationwide to understand the age and makeup of their distribution networks to protect the quality of our drinking water,” said Brian F. Goetz, Water Director and DPW Deputy Director. “It is just as important for property owners to know if their privately-owned service line may contain lead. This effort ultimately benefits both the City Water Division and customers by identifying and removing harmful leaded components if they are found.”

Water Service Line diagram