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Ohio EPA Still Seeking Many Lead Pipe Maps

lead_pipes.jpg
Ohio EPA
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The blue lines represent "possible publicly owned lead service lines."

The Ohio EPA is expecting maps of the lead pipes in the state’s local water systems by Thursday as part of an overhaul of how Ohio deals with lead in drinking water.  But by Wednesday afternoon, only about half of the systems had complied.

Ohio has close to 1,900 water systems, ranging in size from large cities all the way down to single neighborhoods. 

A law passed last year requires them to map out their systems and identify lead pipes. The City of Columbus is one of the cities that did submit its map.

Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer says the maps are important for helping to figure out where systems need to concentrate on testing lead levels in the future.

“We have heard mostly from smaller systems who have not maintained their records over time to know where lead service lines are,” Griesmer says. “And that’s really the problem: It’s very important that the water systems have a record of what their infrastructure is.”

Griesmer says some maps are sophisticated, with coordinates pinpointed to a single house. Others, she says, are screenshots of Google maps with hand-drawn lines drawn on them.

Griesmer adds that, even though lead pipes had fallen out of use by the 1970s, lead solder was still being used until the late 1990s.

Griesmer says that systems which haven't turned in their maps by Thursday will have 30 days before penalties might follow. Links to all of the maps that have been turned in, as well as which systems are still outstanding, are available here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.