We Take Pride in Providing Safe, Clean Drinking Water
In April 2023, NBU began surveying water lines in our service territory to inventory and determine the pipe materials used to connect NBU’s water distribution system to residences or businesses. Although highly unlikely, this process will help determine if any lead pipes still exist on the customer-facing side of residences. Water service lines made of lead can affect the quality of drinking water and cause serious health effects.
This new program is in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions, which require water suppliers to inventory all service lines within their service area. All service lines built before 1983 will be surveyed, a timeline approved specifically for NBU by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The inventory will be completed and submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency on October 26, 2024.
A water service line (or lateral) consists of two separate pipes. One of which connects NBU’s water main to the customer’s water meter. The other part connects the water meter to the customer’s house or building.
New Braunfels Utilities is responsible for the water service from the water main to the water meter. The property owner is responsible for the water service line from the water meter to the building, including all of the service lines inside the building.
Before being prohibited by the State of Texas on July 1, 1988, lead was an acceptable material for use in water line systems. Over time, it was discovered that the use of lead in drinking water service pipes can lead to adverse health effects.
The use of lead in residential and business service lines was prohibited by Congress in 1986. However, the City of New Braunfels adopted a Plumbing Code in 1982 which did not list lead as an acceptable material for water service lines. If your residence was built before 1983, there is a chance, although very unlikely, that lead service pipes are still in use and may be affecting the quality of your drinking water.
Lead is rarely found naturally in our source water or in the treated water flowing through the NBU distribution system. More commonly, traces of lead can leach into water over time through corrosion—a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing.
Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets (brass), and fittings. The amount of lead in your water depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the water’s corrosivity, and water temperature.
No. New Braunfels Utilities employees will be surveying homes with water service lines that were installed before 1983. No action is needed on your part.
Any homes built before 1983 will have their water service line examined and surveyed. If lead materials are identified, they will be inventoried and you will be notified.
New Braunfels Utilities has been sampling customers’ homes for lead and copper over the last 30 years and has never exceeded the action limit for lead or copper. The water provided to customers is considered ‘very hard’ on the hardness scale and is not corrosive. In fact, the hardness precipitates out and actually coats the interior of the pipes which prevents the leaching process from occurring.
As the law is currently written, replacement of lead pipes will only need to be done if NBU exceeds the trigger or action level in the next sampling event. We are currently developing a service line replacement plan that will be submitted to TCEQ for approval by October 2024. Customers will be able to opt out of replacement if they wish.
No. There will never be any service disconnections as a result of this program.
New Braunfels Utilities is in the process of developing the replacement plan which must be submitted to TCEQ for approval by October 2024. One of the requirements of the plan is to put a strategy in place for those who cannot afford replacement.
Once the service line replacement plan is finalized and submitted, the specifics on how and when pipes will be replaced will be shared with customers. The details are not confirmed at this time.
There are steps you can take right away to reduce the possibility of lead in your water, but if you have lead water lines, the best solution is to have them replaced.
- Run the Tap Before Use – Lead levels are likely at their highest when water has been sitting in the pipe for several hours. Clear this water from your pipes by running the cold water for several minutes, which allows you to draw fresh water from the water main. Please remember to be water wise and try not to waste water. You can use this water on house plants or to flush toilets.
- Clean Aerators – Aerators are small attachments at the tips of faucets which regulate the flow of water. They can collect small particles of lead in their screens. It’s a good idea to remove your aerators at least monthly and clean them out.
- Use Cold Water for Drinking and Cooking – Always cook and prepare baby formula with cold water, because hot water dissolves lead more quickly, resulting in higher levels in water.
- Change Out Old Fixtures – Plumbing regulations now stipulate that all fixtures must be manufactured lead-free. Consider installing new fixtures and/or pipes to eliminate sources of exposure.
- Filter the Water – Many home water filters are effective at removing lead. If you purchase a filter, make sure it is certified for lead removal and that you maintain it properly.
- Do Not Boil Water – Boiling water will not remove lead from the water.
There is No Action Required on Your Part
If your home has lead or copper service lines, they will be identified by professionally-trained NBU employees and you will be notified. There is no action needed.
What to Expect If Your Water Lines are Inspected
- When inventorying a service line, NBU employees or contractors will examine both the customer line connected to the water meter and NBU’s service line located on the other side of the meter. Water meters are located in the water meter box which is typically in the front or side yard between the sidewalk and street.
- In some cases, the water line’s material may not be determined when surveying the line in the water meter box and NBU will be required to excavate a small area directly in front of or behind the box. In this case, a 12-inch hole will be excavated approximately a foot past the meter box. Once the water line material has been inventoried, NBU will immediately fill the hole with sand and topsoil.
- Inspections will be done during regular business hours, after hours on weekdays during the daylight hours, and weekends. The inspection will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes.