Water Quality and Corrosion Study
Why is Medford Water Commission studying corrosion?
Water quality and the protection of public health are Medford Water Commission’s top priorities. The ongoing lead issues for customers in Flint, Michigan highlight the need for water systems across the nation to take reducing lead exposure seriously.
Medford Water Commission is conducting a two-year Water Quality and Corrosion Study to evaluate treatment options that can reduce the water’s tendency to release metals from service lines and household plumbing. Medford Water Commission is in compliance with all EPA regulations.
However, there may be an opportunity to create a more stable water, allowing Medford Water Commission to deliver the highest quality water to customers’ taps.
The study started in May 2017 and is scheduled for completion in December 2018. The independent study is being conducted by an expert team to identify a scientifically rigorous and credible solution. All work is based on the latest guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Study is part of a multi-pronged approach to lead and copper in the water system. Medford Water Commission has worked to proactively find and replace lead pipe “pigtails” installed in the early 1900s. For more information on those efforts and information you can take to reduce your exposure to lead and copper in drinking water, click here.
What is the best way to preserve Medford Water Commission’s water quality?
The Water Quality and Corrosion Study evaluates the best path forward to preserve Medford Water Commision’s high quality water all the way to the tap. The thorough four-phase approach follows EPA best practices and assures that any treatment chosen will work with the community’s two water sources and piping system. The study will tell Medford Water Commission how much the water quality will improve and estimate how much corrosion treatment will cost. The study includes four phases, described in the below graphic.
What have we learned so far?
What is pH?
· pH is a scale of acidity from 0-14:
acidic (low pH) versus alkaline
· Mid-point on the scale is 7 (neutral)
· Higher on pH scale: baking soda, toothpaste, hand soap
· Lower on pH scale: lemon juice,
vinegar, black coffee
· Drinking water with lower pH has a
greater tendency to release lead and
copper from piping and household
plumbing. Water with a higher pH
is less corrosive.
The first two phases are complete. The results show increasing the pH (making water less corrosive) produces a more stable water that reduce the tendency of metals to leach from pipes. That means regardless of the type of pipes people have in their homes, with pH treatment, metals stay in the pipe instead of leaching into the water. The pH adjustment methods add naturally occurring substances that have been safely used for decades in communities across Oregon and the U.S.
The next step (Phase 3) is to test treatment methods in “pipe loops” using real pipe from Medford Water Commission’s system to assure that any treatment chosen will work with our two water sources and piping system.
What will be the outcome from the study?
By the end of 2018, Medford Water Commission will have the data needed to identify the best option to preserve our community’s high-quality water right to the tap. Medford Water Commission will know how much treatment would improve water quality for the community and how much it will cost. The selected option will preserve the community’s excellent water quality, safeguard health, and keep water affordable.
How can I learn more?
More information on the study is summarized in the project Fact Sheet. For questions, contact Water Quality at 541-774-2430.