Letter to the FishersIsland.net Editor, February 16, 2016
The Flint Michigan community has been facing a difficult situation with their water for some time and I would like to take this opportunity to answer any concerns as it might relate to our water supply on Fishers Island and how ours differs. I think many, seeing the stories on the news of late, may be wondering if they need to be worried about lead in our Fishers Island Utility Company’s Water Works system.
I would like to assure everyone that Fishers Island is quite a different story from Flint. Lead is something that is routinely tested for in our distribution system and I am not aware of ever being out of compliance with lead levels in the history of the company.
The problem in Flint came about by a change in their water source. As you can see from the link below, Flint diverted to the Flint River to save money, which turns out is highly corrosive source of water. The highly corrosive river water caused lead service lines to leach into homes and also corroded iron main lines turning the water orange in color in the distribution system. I can find no historical information on the Internet of Flint having any reported problem with lead or colored water before changing sources.
Our water source, however, is not considered corrosive as documented by the New York Department of Health (NYDOH) standards. It is also important to understand a service line only affects the home it is connected to, not the distribution system as a whole. Although Fishers Island Water Works (FIWW) doesn’t own or maintain service lines to homes, we do control what materials are approved for service lines through our service standards.
FIWW service standards call out that service lines be copper or approved plastic only. We inspect all new services before supplying service to a location. So although I can’t say there are no lead service lines, I can say they would be few and far between and would not affect the larger distribution system. That said, you should know that there is always going to be some amount of lead components present in some of the older homes on Island. They most likely have had lead solder used to sweat the pipes and older corporation cocks may also contain lead as well. However, if the water source is not corrosive it is my understanding it would be very uncommon for lead to leach into a home’s drinking water. If anyone would like to have their home tested for lead we can provide that service.
Just to be clear, I am aware of no threat from lead in the distribution system what so ever and am looking only to calm fears that may have come about because of the publicity about Flint. Furthermore, I would like everyone to understand our yearly water testing and reporting is strictly monitored and enforced by the NYDOH ensuring that quality standards are adhered too.
Link to CNN article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/
Chris Finan, President
FI Utility Co.
161 Oriental Ave, Drawer E
Fishers Island, NY 06390