If you are concerned about lead in your drinking water, contact Kansas City’s 311 Action Center at 3-1-1 or call 816-513-1313.
The safety of Kansas City, Missouri’s drinking water is the top priority of KC Water. The source of our water is regularly tested, water is treated extensively to ensure it’s safe for drinking, and it’s tested again to assure quality before distribution throughout the city. Test results are publicly available in annual Consumer Confidence Reports.
On December 16, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) which are new requirements in regulations that govern drinking water systems. To fulfill a portion of the requirements, Kansas City is developing a Drinking Water Service Line Materials Inventory to identify materials used in service lines across the city.
Other water utilities in our region and across the country are doing the same thing as part of a national effort to reduce lead exposure in drinking water.
Service lines are the pipes that connect from the water main lines to buildings and houses.
● Water mains are the larger water lines that are located beneath most streets in the city.
● Water service lines are the pipes that connect from the water mains to homes and businesses.
Service lines have a valve on them called a “curb stop” that is usually located near the street curb or sidewalk. Water meters are typically located in the house or in the yard after the curb stop valve.
KC Water owns and maintains the portion of the service line from the public water main to the curb stop. The customer owns, and is responsible for, the portion of the service line from the curb stop to the home or building and all of the fixtures within the building.
Yes! The drinking water treatment facility, operated by KC Water, includes a water softening process. The primary process utilizes lime which reduces the reactivity of your water. Reactivity is when a metal reacts to another substance, causing corrosion. In addition to that safeguard, phosphates are added to the water as a corrosion inhibitor to prevent metals from leaching into your drinking water.
KC Water has a dedicated team of licensed professionals and a certified laboratory that continuously tests the drinking water. Sampling happens on a daily, monthly, and annual basis to provide safe drinking water. Consumer Confidence Reports are available annually around July 1.
In the past, some cities may have used lead pipes in some service lines. Lead was banned as an allowable pipe material for service lines in Missouri in January 1989. Buildings constructed after that date will most likely not have lead service lines. If a building was constructed before 1989 that does not mean it has a lead service line, but it is possible.
That is why KC Water and other cities are developing service line inventories – to identify service line pipe materials currently used.
Initial inventories are to be completed by October 2024. The results of the initial inventory will be used to create an online map where KC Water customers can look up the address of their property and service line pipe materials. The online map will be available for public access by October 2024.
The initial inventory is being developed from Kansas City’s historical records from service line installations, permits, and maintenance records. Kansas City has over 176,000 service lines and some are over 100 years old. It is a huge undertaking to find and review historical records for all the service lines.
Given the size and age of the city, the initial inventory will likely contain many “unknown” lines – ones where the material cannot be identified from current records. After an initial inventory from historical data is complete, KC Water will continue with a multi-year program to identify unknown service line materials that were not identified by historical records.
Kansas City’s drinking water comes from the Missouri River, as well as a small number of alluvial wells (groundwater wells located near the river). Lead is not detected in source water (locations where the water is pulled from).
KC Water distributes drinking water to homes, schools, and businesses through 2,800 miles of pipe located throughout the city.
Drinking water in Kansas City is essentially lead-free in the distribution system. Some homes and businesses may have water service lines made of lead, and historically, lead may have been included in metal alloys used to make plumbing fittings and fixtures (such as brass valves). Lead is generally a low percentage in the metal, but it can enter the drinking water if plumbing materials, service lines, pipes or solder in your home’s own plumbing become corroded.
In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed national regulations that significantly reduced the percentage of lead that is allowable in plumbing fixtures. Today, plumbing fixtures are essentially lead-free.
Knowing that some buildings may have older plumbing pipes and fixtures, KC Water treats the water with lime softening and phosphates to help prevent metals from leaching into the drinking water.
Lead is a neurotoxin that has acute and chronic impacts on the body. Lead exposure can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and may interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body (Source: EPA, Lead and Copper Rule Revisions).
The heavy metal was used for most of the 20th century in paint, gasoline, and other household products, in addition to potentially being present in some older pipes or plumbing, before its impact was known.
Lead can be a significant risk to pregnant women and children under six years old. Infants and young children are most susceptible to the risks of lead exposure. Because they are growing, children’s bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to its damaging effects. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that there are no safe levels of lead in children. Also, it can also pose a cardiovascular risk to older adults. (Source: EPA, Lead and Copper Rules Revisions)
KC Water treats drinking water with lime and phosphates to reduce the reactivity of the water and inhibit corrosion to prevent metals from leaching into your drinking water. You can learn how to take further steps to reduce chances of lead exposure by visiting KC Water’s Water Quality Page [PDF].
Galvanized pipes – steel pipes dipped into a protective coating to prevent corrosion – were also installed in some service lines. Lead particles can attach to the inside surface of galvanized pipes, so, if a lead pipe was ever located upstream of a galvanized pipe, the galvanized pipe may have collected lead particles on the inside surface.
Collecting Historical Data (Summer 2023 – Summer 2024)
KC Water is in the process of reviewing and collecting records for over 176,000 service lines throughout the Kansas City metro, some being older than 100 years!
Verifying Accuracy of the Historical Data (Starting Spring – Summer 2024)
Once the historical data has been collected and initially reviewed, KC Water will begin a program to confirm the reliability of historical records. This may include inspecting service lines when Kansas City crews are doing repairs on water mains and meters, making spot checks of service, or encouraging residents to voluntarily provide information on service lines entering their buildings. This will be a multi-year program and details will be developed in 2024.
Publish a Public-Facing Online Map Showing Material Types Results (October 2024)
By October 2024, KC Water will publish a searchable, online map for customers to view the results of the initial inventory for their property.
Next Steps (October 2024 and Beyond)
KC Water is still in the process of determining the next phases of work for this project. Stay up-to-date! For the most accurate project information, visit the Drinking Water Service Line Inventory webpage.