Local News

Water Tests Positive For Lead In More Durham Residences

Posted August 8, 2006 6:45 a.m. EDT

— More Durham residences have tested positive for high levels of lead in drinking water.

More than 30 percent of 135 homes recently tested found the same thing -- lead levels above the detected limit, according to Terry Rolan, director, Durham Water Management.

The city started taking a closer look at its water system after a child tested positive in May for lead poisoning.

Still, Rolan said it is not a widespread problem.

"Clearly, lots of children are drinking Durham's water and we don't have an epidemic of poisoning in Durham," he said.

Rolan said he believes the problem is in the lead-sodered pipes found only in residences built before 1986.

Three years ago, though, Durham changed out one of the chemicals used to treat the water. The city changed back to the original chemical after research pointed to that as the possible problem.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell said the city is taking the lead issue very seriously, but said he feels comfortable drinking Durham's water. Residents, however, he said, must make up their own minds about drinking it.

In September, the city will conduct federally regulated tests of targeted homes. Those tests should show if the problem has been fixed or whether city officials need to keep looking at other solutions.