Home Water Testing for Lead

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Home Water Testing for Lead

Lead is a poison that is harmful to people, especially young children and pregnant women. Exposure to even a small amount of lead can lead to serious issues.

South Bend Water Works distributes clean, safe drinking water to homes every day that meet all state and federal water quality standards. Water is lead-free when it leaves the City’s treatment plants, but it is possible for it to pick up lead particles from corrosion in service lines or plumbing fixtures as it flows into the home.

If your home was built before 1986, it is likely that a portion of your service line and/or the plumbing in your home contains some lead. In South Bend, the homeowner owns the entire water service line.

Residents can request their free lead sampling kit by calling 311 or emailing waterquality@southbendin.gov. It is critical for residents to closely follow the instructions provided in the kit. The sampling should be collected from the cold-water faucet in the kitchen that is used regularly for drinking or cooking but not softened or filtered. The sampling must occur when the water has not been used for at least six hours, such as first thing when you wake up or after being out of the house for the day. The sampling should not be collected if the water has not been used for more than 24 hours. 

How long does it take to complete the sampling for the lead water kit?

The sampling will only take about five minutes to complete. It is critical for residents to closely follow the instructions provided in the kit. A video explaining how to correctly complete the sampling can be viewed at southbendin.gov/LCRvideo.

Is South Bend's water corrosive to lead pipes?

The water itself is not corrosive to lead pipes.  Lead testing has been done on water from hundreds of homes in the city since 1992. This testing as well as other water quality parameter testing has shown that South Bend's water is not corrosive, which means it should not cause metals from pipes to enter the water under normal use. However, it is important to know that things within your home and your water use habits can have an effect on your water quality.

If I have lead plumbing, what can I do to minimize my risk of having lead in my water?

You should always use cold water for drinking and cooking. Hot water is more likely to have lead than cold water. Here are some other things that you can do:

  • Avoid drinking softened water. Metals from your pipes are more likely to dissolve into soft water than into hard water.
  • Allow the cold water to run for at least 30 seconds before using if it has been sitting in the pipes for several hours. To conserve water, you can keep the flushed water for watering plants or doing dishes. You can also fill pitchers with fresh water to avoid flushing every day.
  • Remove and clean your faucet aerators/screens on a regular basis to remove any particles that may have come from your pipes. While the aerator is off, flush the cold water for 3 to 5 minutes.

How can I get my water tested for lead?

If you are a South Bend Water Works customer, the City will test your water for free. To request a lead test kit, email waterquality@southbendin.gov or call 311. Test kits will be dropped off to your home and picked up once you’ve let us know that the sample has been collected.   

You will be notified of the results once they are received. It could take a few weeks to get results back.

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

View the Homeowner's Guide to Managing Lead in Drinking Water.

For information from the Environmental Protection Agency, click here.

For additional questions, call 311 or email waterquality@southbendin.gov.




311 Process Notes

When you receive a request for a sampling kit, fill out a service request. Service requests go to Michelle Smith in Water Works. Additional questions should be sent to Michelle at x5994 or email waterquality@southbendin.gov.

Sampling is available to homeowners or tenants any time of the year.