Water and Sewer FAQs

Water Quality/Testing:

Does the Town test the water?

The Town of Reading is required to meet state and federal drinking water standards and test the water in accordance with those standards. Visit the Town of Reading website at www.readingma.gov or the MWRA web site at www.mwra.com for the annual water quality reports.

Does MWRA water contain lead?

MWRA water is lead-free when it leaves the reservoirs.  MWRA and local distribution pipes that carry the water to your community are made mostly of iron and steel, and do not add lead to water.  However, lead can get into your tap water through pipes in the home, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass fixtures.  Corrosion or wearing away of lead based materials can add lead to tap water, especially if water sits for a long time in the pipes before use.

Is drinking water the main source of lead exposure?

Lead contamination from lead-based paint, dirt, and dust accounts for most lead exposures.  Lead from drinking water can make up to 20 percent of a person's total exposure to lead.  The two most cost effective ways to minimize lead exposure from drinking water are to:

1)  flush the kitchen faucet for one minute in the morning or after coming home from school/work

2) use only cold water for drinking and cooking.

How is my water tested for lead?

To monitor lead levels, the Reading Water Department tests tap water in homes.  But not just any homes.  Under EPA regulations, homes that are likely to have high lead levels are usually older homes which may have had lead service lines or lead solder -  must be tested at first flush after water has been sitting overnight.  The EPA rule requires that 90% of these worst-case samples must have lead levels below the Action Level of 15 ppb.

What are the results?   What levels have been found?

Visit the Town of Reading website at www.readingma.gov or the MWRA web site at www.mwra.com for the annual water quality reports.

What can I do to reduce exposure to lead?

Be careful of places you may find lead in or near your home.  Paint, soil, dust and some pottery may contain lead.
Run the tap until the water feels cold.  Then fill a pitcher with water and place in refrigerator for future use.
Never use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking - especially when making baby formula or other food for infants.
Ask your local water department if there are any lead service pipes leading to your home.

Test your tap water.  Contact MWRA for more tips and a list of certified labs.

Should I buy a water filtration system or bottled water?

Most homes in the service area do not have lead issues with their tap water.  Also, simply running your tap for 30 seconds, after the water has been sitting for several hours, is usually a much cheaper and effective alternative to a filter or bottled water.
Also, some water filtration systems do not remove lead.  Before you purchase a filter, you should verify the manufacturer's claim.  A good resource is the National Sanitation Foundation at www.nsf.org or at 1-877-867-3435.  If your water has elevated levels of lead after flushing, bottled water is an option, but it may cost as much as 1000 times more than tap water.

How do I get information about lead in my drinking water?

Contact the MWRA at 617-242-5323 or at www.mwra.com.

Contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Lead Exposure Office at 617-284-8400 or at www.state.ma.us/dph.
Contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD or on-line at http://www2.epa.gov/lead.

Who can I contact if I have questions about the specific water treatment techniques used in my community or if I have questions about the test results presented on this report?

The best source of information on these topics would be your local water supplier. Their staff would be the most knowledgeable source for water quality information specific to your community. They will be able to answer questions and provide you with information on local water quality conditions and the type of treatment processes used in your community, as well as how often the water supply is analyzed for specific contaminants.

Who can I contact if I have questions about government regulations of drinking water supplies or water quality in general?

If you have questions regarding the development of the MCL and MCLG levels shown on your report, you can contact the EPA's safe drinking water hotline at 1-800-426-4791. The staff at this hotline number can address questions about federal drinking water standards and provide general information on water quality in the United States.

The NSF Consumer Affairs Office can also address questions on these and other water quality topics. You can contact their Consumer Affairs Office via a toll-free consumer hotline at 1-877-867-3435 or send them an email at info@nsf.org.

I have a home water treatment system (or am interested in purchasing one). Where can I go for independent information on these products?

Some consumers may have issues related to the taste, odor, or presence of a particular contaminant in their drinking water supply. If you have or are considering the use of a home water treatment device, we encourage you to visit the Drinking Water Treatment section of the NSF website.

NSF is the leading independent tester of home water treatment. They evaluate hundreds of brands of water treatment devices each year to ensure they meet the design and performance requirements of national public health standards. Consumers can be confident that home water treatment devices that carry NSF certification will actually reduce the contaminants as claimed by the manufacturer on the product label. In addition, you can also be assured that the product itself is not adding harmful levels of contaminants to the water.

Unlike many other product testing programs, NSF-certified products must be re-certified each year; this allows them to assure consumers that the products they are using continue to meet the strict national standards for public health and safety.

Although they do not make product recommendations, the NSF Consumer Affairs Office is available to answer general questions regarding home water treatment products and the testing our organization performs on these devices. You can contact their Consumer Affairs Office via a toll-free consumer hotline at 1-877-867-3435 or via email at info@nsf.org.

I use a filter in my home and I have to change it more frequently than the manufacturer specifications. Why is this?

The use of filters is a personal one. Some homes may experience particular problems or specific concerns that impact their decision to use a filter. It is important to note that manufacturer specifications are based on generic conditions and are not based on actual water quality in the MWRA service area. Since MWRA is an unfiltered surface water supply, it is likely that more frequent filter changes will be required. In particular, during certain times of the year, the source water reservoirs experience algae blooms and these can result in rapid fouling of filters. Also, depending on local conditions, iron may be elevated and this will result in more rapid fouling of the filter. It is important to properly maintain your filter. To reduce required filter changes, you may want to filter only the drinking water, not all the water entering the house.

The Water System

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

http://www.mwra.com/04water/html/wat.htm

Frequently Asked Questions about Drinking Water

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

http://www.mwra.com/04water/html/qual4concerns.htm

Water Quality Test Results

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority