According to a 2020 general public education notice, the village of Herkimer has had a problem with high levels of lead being found in the water of certain homes. Three years later, lead is still a problem in Herkimer water. The village of Herkimer has worked to address the issue but what is being done? According to a village employee who provided information, up to three quarters of the homes in the village could be affected by the lead water problem.
People were sent general public education notices to help homes reduce lead in their households. These notices provided information about health effects, reducing exposure, and testing. According to the 2020 general public education notice, “The Village of Herkimer Public Water System overall exceeded both the Lead and Copper Action Levels during the 2020 sampling period.” There is also a section on how to find out if you have a lead service line.
Lead is being found in the water from the old pipes. The general public education notice states that houses from before 1988 have higher risk of having lead service lines. People in Herkimer should consider getting used to using cold water, as hot water may contain more lead than cold. Hot water is more likely to leach lead from corroded pipes. A village employee suggested letting the water run for at least five seconds to clear water that may have been sitting longer in the pipes.
Lead exposure can create some serious health problems. Children under the age of six are at greater risk from lead than adults. “It can affect their brain and cause learning disabilities and behavioral problems because the blood brain barrier hasn’t developed enough to keep the lead out of the brain. So, that’s why we’re most concerned with children under six because that blood brain barrier hasn’t developed” said Lori Anderson, Senior Community Health Nurse and Lead Prevention Program Coordinator.
Some college students may be wondering about the campus’s water supply. The college community gets water from the village of Herkimer. It is unclear if contaminated water is an issue at the college, but village representatives said it was less likely considering the water main was replaced within the last five years.
If village residents have lead water lines leading up to their house it is their responsibility to replace them. If you have children or anyone at higher risk of being affected, get them tested for lead poisoning frequently. It is also recommended to use a filter certified for removing lead.
The village has received some grants to address the issue but much more money is still needed to completely address the problem.