Mineral Point warns of high lead level in drinking water samples

The city reported last Thursday that the high lead levels have been found in drinking water across a couple testing sites.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:38 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The City of Mineral Point is informing the public about high levels of lead, as they relate to health risks.

The city reported last Thursday that the high lead levels were found in drinking water across a couple testing sites. According to Matt Honer, city administrator, this does not mean there’s lead in the entire water system.

“I agree with Matt our water system is safe,” Nathan Fosbinder, water and sewer superintendent, said. “This was a testing procedure, and we test those sites for a reason.” Testing sites are homes in the city, he explained.

Fosbinder is now turning to educate the public about service laterals. Laterals connect homes to larger water systems. If they’re made out of lead and the infrastructure is breaking down, people who drink water from it may be exposed to more levels of the element than those whose laterals are made of other materials, like copper or plastic.

“If you don’t have a lead lateral, I really don’t think there’s much of a reason for concern at all,” Fosbinder said.

The health risks are greatest among infants, young children and pregnant women, according to Debbie Siegenthaler, Iowa Co. health officer. She says too much lead can interfere with how much blood carries oxygen to the rest of the body and can damage organs.

The city has notified “high-risk facilities,” like schools, daycares and assisted living centers. Other rules to follow include conducting additional tests by the end of the year at other sites, as required by the Department of Natural Resources, Fosbinder said.

The Mineral Point School District does not have buildings with lead service lines, superintendent Mitch Wainwright told NBC15. As a precaution, the district has submitted a sample for testing and is waiting for results to return. Students or staff with concerns can drink from bottled waters bought by the district.

According to the city, these are some steps to reduce exposure to lead in water:

  • Run water for 15-30 seconds to flush lead from interior plumbing or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking if it hasn’t been used for several hours.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  • Consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter.
  • Test your water for lead. Nearby state-certified labs include the Iowa County Health Department. Water sample collection kits from the Health Department can be picked up at Mineral Point City Hall or at the Health Department Monday through Friday between 8:00-4:30 PM. The cost is $35.

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