Lead/Copper and Other Water Quality Issues

It seems like drinking water quality is a news story every day.  The Division of Water Works very hard to produce high quality drinking water for our community.  We operate under a permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and our employees are certified by the State of Ohio as Water Plant Operators or Water Distribution System Operators.   Every day the water is sampled before leaving the water plants to ensure that we are in compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminate Limits (MCLs).  We provide an annual report to all our consumers that outlines our operations and water quality.  The City works with Hydrogeologists certified by the State of Ohio in the Brownfield Program to advise us on aquifer and water quality matters.  Some specific things water quality issues are listed below.


Corrosive Chemistry: How Lead Ended Up in Flint's Drinking Water
Water running from faucet

Lead and Copper

Lead and copper primarily enter the water system through plumbing materials. Soft or corrosive water can leach these materials out of house plumbing, especially if the water sits in the pipes for long periods of time. To combat this leaching action, the City of Lancaster adds an polyphosphate blend as an corrosion inhibitor and a sequestering agent to prevent staining. In 1991 U.S. EPA changed the focus of the lead and copper testing to reflect the fact that most lead and copper sources are household plumbing. Prior to this time the lead and copper standard was 50 parts per billion leaving the water treatment plant to today's standard of 15 parts per billion for lead and 1300 parts per billion for copper at the customer's faucet. Lead and copper testing are done at a set amount of services annually. U.S. EPA regulations require that if 10% of the samples exceed the limits, the water system must institute corrosion control measures and if the lead limits are exceed the community must also provide a public notice including steps customers can take to minimize exposure to lead. These steps can include the following If water has sat in your pipes more than six hours, let the faucet run to flush the lines. U.S. EPA recommends that you flush the lines until the water runs cold.

Click here for the U.S. EPA fact sheet on Lead and Copper




Arsenic is a naturally occuring substance left behind by the glaciers and found in groundwater all across the State of Ohio and the United States.  In our aquifer, arsenic is tied closely with iron and is removed through aeration and filtration.  Below is a map showing arsenic levels in the groundwater across the State of Ohio. 
Arsenic Map


Bacteria contamination is rare in a groundwater system by its nature.  But bacteria can enter the system due to cross contamination caused by water line breaks or backflows of contaminations.  To eliminate bacteria the City of Lancaster chlorinates the drinking water before it leaves the Water Plant and monitors for bacteria.  In the case where a water line is depressurized, the City is required to issue a boil order to affected residents and perform additional testing until two samples are free of bacterial.  The bacteria test takes 24 hours.  Our system is designed to close off affected areas of the City so that only a small number of residents are affected by a boil order.  For more information see the Boil Order

monitoring well testing

Ground Water Monitoring

In addition to our Water Treatment Plant monitoring, the City of Lancaster maintains a series of monitoring wells surrounding our wellfields within the one year time of travel.  These wells serve as our early warning system to detect pollution before it reaches our wells.  For more information on the Wellhead Protection program, click here.


emergency plan

Contingency Plans

Because of the importance of water to our community, we have a mandated emergency plan to cover emergencies big and small.  We have survived blizzards, ice storms, wind storms and floods without missing a beat.  Interconnections within our distribution system means that we can work around water line breaks and plant shutdowns.  Our water storage system hold over the mandated 24 hours reserve of water even in a major failure water is available for customers and fire protection.  Our emergency plan includes a procedure for notifying customers about emergency situations and water quality issues.