Exposure to lead can be harmful to our health, especially for unborn babies and young children, so it’s important to keep lead levels in drinking water low.
Follow the links for Public Health England information on the effects of lead and more on how we sample for lead as part of the water quality standards.
Lots more information about how to check for lead is below. If you're concerned that you may have lead plumbing, or would like your drinking water checked for lead, please call us to arrange a visit to your property and we'll take a water sample for analysis, free of charge:
None of our water mains are made of lead, and water leaving our supply works doesn't contain lead.
Modern service pipes (made up of the communication and supply pipes that bring water into your property) are made of blue polyethylene. Lead service pipes were phased out and made illegal 50 years ago. Some properties built before 1970 may still have lead pipes in them, or connecting to the water mains, but properties built after 1970 are unlikely to.
Lead can get into drinking water that it's been in contact with for an extended period, such as overnight. The longer water is in contact with lead, the more lead is likely to be in it. If a lead pipe is damaged or flattened (which can happen when driveways and paths are replaced) the amount of lead that can get into the water increases. As well as lead supply pipes, lead can also enter water through lead solder joints, lead-lined tanks or plumbing fittings and taps.
If you live in an older property you may still have some lead plumbing.
To identify lead pipes, look at the pipes leading to your kitchen tap or internal stop-tap (usually under the kitchen sink):
Even if internal lead plumbing has already been replaced, it’s important to check whether any underground water pipes in your garden or driveway are made of lead, as these are the property owner's responsibility. To do this, check the pipe coming from your outside stop tap to your property (you might want to ask for help to do this if access is difficult). Usually, as well as the above, external lead pipes:
If there's no lead pipework you'll see pipes made from either:
Other household sources of lead in water can include:
If you think you have lead pipes, call us on the number above. If our tests show that the level of lead in your drinking water is higher than the legal limit (the prescribed concentration value or PCV) we advise you to replace your lead pipes as soon as possible.
When replacing lead plumbing, the permanent solution is to replace all lead pipework with pipes made from safer materials. Remember:
What we'll do
If you've identified lead pipes we always advise replacing them as soon as possible.
If you do need to use lead pipes, don't drink the water that has been standing in the pipes overnight:
You should also run the water for a minute if the tap hasn’t been turned on all day – for instance, if you’ve been out at work.
Always run the tap before making up bottle feeds for infants. Ensure that the cold kitchen tap is fed directly from the water main.
If you have lead pipes, only use the flushed cold kitchen tap for drinking and cooking – never use any hot tap.