Many water companies are adding low concentrations of orthophosphate to the water supply in order to reduce lead concentrations in drinking water produced from corrosion of lead service pipes. Despite the erratic nature of lead concentrations measured at customer properties it has been possible to quantify the impact of treatment on lead concentrations and thereby quantify the effectiveness of treatment at both a regional and zonal level. This showed that the treatment policy has delivered more than 90 per cent reduction in lead concentrations, and was largely in accordance with theory. Across the region, lead performance and the reduction in lead performance show significant variation. A large part of this variation can be accounted for by variations in the proportion of leaded properties supplied through lead service pipes. Analysis showed that the proportion of particulate lead has also reduced significantly over the last decade. This is attributed to improved mechanical robustness of the corrosion layer caused by changes in its physical structure. This appears to be a very slow process with a natural time-scale of years.
Research Article|October 01 2008