Central Arkansas Water says residents in older homes with lead service pipes will have them replaced this year.
The utility reviewed nearly 6,000 pipes. Just 143 in the area were found to be lead pipes, and a third of those have now been updated.
The utility plans to finish the upgrades this year. Water testing has shown central Arkansas’s lead pipes are not leaching neurotoxins that can cause developmental delays in children, Central Arkansas Water spokesman Douglas Shackelford says. But the lead pipes are being updated as a precaution.
“After the line is changed, we are continuing to sample those houses that do have a line change for 90 days after that service line has been replaced,” he said.
Awareness about the dangers of lead from water has grown since the crisis in Flint, Michigan a few years ago. Shackelford says southern states, like Arkansas, are less likely than northern and middle American ones to have had lead pipes installed in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
“Lead was kind of viewed back then as a premium product, so a lot of contractors here in Central Arkansas chose to use different materials,” he said.
Despite the rarity of lead pipes in the state, the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund has given the state an F grade for transparency on the issue because Arkansas does not require the disclosure of the presence of any lead pipes to home buyers.
This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media, a statewide journalism collaboration among public media organizations. Arkansas Public Media reporting is funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK and from members of the public. You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.