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Aurora’s Lead and Copper Study, Preparing for the Future

30 Jun 2021 1:41 PM | Natalie Love (Administrator)

Ah Summer, (queue your favorite summer song playing in the background).  For some that means children are out of school, crowded swimming pools, garden fresh tomatoes and zucchini, and vacations especially after lockdown for over a year.  For the quality control lab at Aurora Water that means Lead and Copper season.  Yes, from June to September each year Lead and Copper are the masters of my work day. 

The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) is changing so this year’s sampling event is different.  Although we are still governed by the “old” rule, we want to prepare for implementation of the revisions to the rule.  This year we are essentially working both rules.  As a result, we identified a few goals to accomplish this year in relation to lead and copper sampling:

  1. Encourage increased participation under the current rule.  Many of our repeat participants are customers whose homes have copper pipe with lead solder, which will not be valid samples under the new rule but for now we are still welcoming samples from those customers.  The challenge is that many of these customers have been participating in the study for years but recently we have seen a decrease in participation.  So this year we offered an incentive for those customers to continue to participate in the study.
  2. Help our repeat customers that qualify to sample under both rules adjust to the change from sampling 1 liter to 5 liters.  We revised our sampling instructions with simplified language and included photographs of the sampling process.
  3. Identify areas that potentially have lead service lines and encourage those customers to participate in the study.  We worked with other city departments to identify which areas potentially have lead service lines and added those to our sampling pool.  We initiated a postcard campaign to reach out to these customers requesting participation and we offered an incentive to encourage participation of these new customers.  We also removed any households that are confirmed to not have lead service lines. 
  4. We determined it would be prudent to gather as much data as possible.  We do not know what to expect from these new sample sites that have not been tested before.  As we identify any potential lead lines through sampling we can work to get those service lines verified and replaced, if they are determined to be lead lines.  As GI Joe would say, “ Knowing is half the battle.”

This seems to be working out so far.  We have about 200 customers that have agreed to collect samples this year.  We began delivering sample kits earlier this month and already have 80 samples returned.  Which is encouraging because in 2020 we only received 54 samples total.

Once this year’s samples have been analyzed we will have a better indication of what we are facing for the future under the revised rule.  Hopefully by the time the revised rule changes are implemented we will have all the kinks worked out and have our new sampling pool in place full of customers that are ready to sample when requested.

Happy Summer!


Adele Rucker is the RMWQAA President and a Sr. Laboratory Analyst at the City of Aurora's Quality Control Laboratory.

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