Concord has removed the last lead pipe in its water system

  • The last lead service pipe in Concord's public plumbing system has been removed. The gray pipe on the left is the lead “gooseneck” attachment, about 18 inches long, between the service pipe and the copper line that ran into the house. . This was originally installed in 1937, according to Marco Philippon Water Treatment Superintendent. Courtesy—City of Concord

Monitor staff
Published: 4/18/2016 11:11:32 PM

When news of lead pipes contaminating public water systems across the country broke late last year, the Monitor asked how many lead pipes exist in Concord’s public water system.

The answer then: just one. 

The answer now: none at all. 

An 18-inch long lead pipe that connected the copper line in a Perkins Court home with the water line running down the street was removed by the city in late March, said Water Treatment Superintendent Marco Philippon. The pipe was installed in 1937.

The work wound up a multiple-year project to replace all such lines, which is why Philippon plans to keep this pipe on display at the water treatment plant (where you can also see a wooden water line from past centuries).

Water pipes were often made of lead in decades past because lead is more flexible than copper or steel, which made it particularly useful linking water mains to homes because it could snake around tree roots in yards or corners of buildings.  But lead can leach into water, causing potentially dangerous health and cognition problems, and its use has long been discouraged for drinking water.

The city’s removal does not mean, however, that there are no lead pipes carrying drinking water in Concord, because they may still exist inside older homes or buildings. Both lead pipes and lead-containing solder used on copper pipes can leach into drinking water, but random tests conducted across the city have found no dangerous levels of the metal.

If it was made of a different metal, the connecting pipe could have stayed, noted Phillipon. “The exterior of both the lead and copper are actually in excellent shape, indicative of good sand bedding around the service,” he said.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek)


David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.



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