by Gary Michaels, Community Journalist
EAST HARDWICK – A recent survey of all the water service lines connecting buildings to the East Hardwick Fire District water system found no evidence of lead pipes. The service line inventory was prepared by MSK Engineers of Bennington, in accordance with federal and state regulations, and was funded by a state grant secured by the fire district. The survey was conducted during the Spring of 2023, and consisted of both document and photograph reviews as well as in-person inspections. The final report from MSK Engineers was approved by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ Public Drinking Water Program on November 7, 2023.
“We’re of course very pleased to get these results, which confirmed our understanding that the fire district’s water system does not have a lead pipe problem, the way so many old drinking water systems do,” said David O’Brien, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Fire District.
The East Hardwick Fire District turned 100 years old this year. “We have a lot of work to do to bring the system up to modern health and safety standards after many years of minimal maintenance,” continued Mr. O’Brien, “and so it’s nice to know that lead pipes aren’t a big concern in addition to everything else.”
In recent years the Fire District has been dealing with roots growing into their springs, among other maintenance issues.
According to the Vermont Department of Health, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and lead levels should be reduced to as low as possible. Exposure to lead can cause serious health effects in all age groups, including infants and pregnant mothers. For these reasons, the East Hardwick Fire District will continue to work to ensure there is no lead risk to all its users in the years ahead.
While the survey results indicate that no immediate action is needed, the survey was unable to determine the pipe material of 47 of its 80 service line connections, and the remaining service lines had galvanized components. While galvanized pipe is not itself a lead risk, galvanized pipe can chemically bind with lead in the water, and that lead can then later be released back into the water. Therefore, in an abundance of caution, the fire district will be putting in place a plan for an on-going effort to confirm there is no lead risk from these service lines, and address any lead issues identified by these future engineering studies. Ratepayers can expect more information and guidance mailed to them in the very near future.
More information on lead in drinking water can be found at healthvermont.gov/drinking-water/lead.