Water pitchers en route to Dukeville residents, testing kits still to come

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 28, 2021

SALISBURY — As part of a response to dangerous lead levels in Dukeville-area drinking water, the approximately 160 customers on the county’s municipal water line should soon receive a package containing a free Brita water pitcher and filters.

The pitchers are a temporary measure being taken by the county to ensure residents’ water is safe after elevated levels of lead in drinking water was found in four of 20 homes tested. Lead is not coming from the water line itself, county officials say. Instead, it’s coming from the lead soldering in some houses with older pipe systems.

County staff are working with the state of North Carolina, Hazen and Sawyer engineering firm and Virginia Tech University to determine the best long-term solution to the lead problem, but the county commissioners voted on Jan. 14 to provide every active connection on the line with a Brita pitcher and two certified filters.

The county approved a $37,067 contract with 120Water to provide the pitchers, which the company shipped on Wednesday. Barring any mail delays, pitchers should arrive at customers’ homes no later than Feb. 15. 

As of Wednesday evening, County Manager Aaron Church said more than 20 of the pitchers had already arrived.

“I think (120Water) has done a good job and staff has done a good job working to get it done,” Church said.

Included with the pitcher and filters will be information from Rowan County that provides answers to frequently asked questions and graphics showing how lead can enter drinking water.

The same customers who received pitchers will also be sent a free lead and copper water sampling kit. Church said that the testing kits should be sent before the end of next week.

Included in the testing kits will be pre-paid delivery packets so customers can return their samples free of charge. The samples will be tested by a certified laboratory and the results will be shared with the customers.

To incentivize customers to sample their water, Rowan County is offering a $72 credit on the water bills of customers who return a water sample by following the enclosed instructions and using the pre-paid delivery packet.

The results of the samples will help Rowan County determine how to best remedy the lead problem.

The current course of action for the county to eliminate the lead is by building a chemical booster station along the Northeast Rowan County Water System that would inject a chemical into the water to coat the pipes in customers’ homes to prevent any lead seepage. However, the county is pondering other solutions, including installing faucet filters, changing the system-wide treatments for Salisbury-Rowan Utilities or replacing the pipes in specific homes that have elevated levels of lead.

Rowan County has offered these tips to help customers reduce their consumption of lead:

  • Properly use the Brita water pitcher and certified filters provided by Rowan County.
  • Have their water tested. Take part in the free Rowan County testing program when your kit arrives.
  • Let cold water run at the faucet for at least three minutes before using it for drinking or cooking.
  • Use only cold water. Hot water has the potential to absorb more lead from the piping. Heating or boiling water does not remove lead from drinking water.
  • Regularly clean faucet aerators. Lead particles can collect in the aerators.

For more information on the Brita pitcher distribution or the lead and copper testing program, visit www.rowancountync.gov/water.

For additional information contact County Manager Aaron Church at 704-216-8180.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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