Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017AR397B

Investigating impact of lead service lines in drinking water distribution systems at the City of Tulsa

Institute: Arkansas
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $11,554

Principal Investigators: Wen Zhang

Abstract: Lead in drinking water is becoming an increasingly alarming issue in municipalities around the nation. One main source of lead comes from the lead service lines and parts within the water distribution systems. Since complete replacement of lead pipes is impossible to achieve, the fate of lead in drinking water deserves more attention. Currently the impact of partial lead-pipe replacement is still unclear. In addition, the prevalence of biofilms within the water distribution system adds to the complexity of lead crisis. This study aims to investigate the ability of biofilms to accumulate and release lead into the treated water within water distribution systems. The experiment will be conducted using the existing pipe loop system at Tulsa water treatment plant, which will simulate the operation of water distribution system for 8 months. Both water delivered and biofilm generated from the system will be analyzed for lead concentration using ICP-MS. Biofilm composition will also be examined using molecular tools. Pipe scale will also be analyzed for lead content in off-service pipes from the City of Tulsa. All municipalities could benefit from the results of this study regarding lead in drinking water, and design preventative strategies to reduce lead exposure.