Providence Water Improving Water Treatment
The drinking water that leaves our water treatment plant in Scituate meets all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state drinking water requirements. As a normal part of the treatment process, we adjust the pH of the water to control corrosion in the pipes under the streets and in your home. Corrosion can cause metals in pipes, such as lead, to be released into the drinking water. Treated water leaving the plant does not contain lead; however, some homes’ service lines and household plumbing may contain lead.
Providence Water has been working with our panel of nationally recognized drinking water experts (Expert Panel) to identify the best forms of corrosion control treatment for our system. The Expert Panel recommended that we use orthophosphate to control corrosion. Orthophosphate is a colorless, tasteless, odorless food ingredient approved by the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration. Orthophosphate is being used by approximately 50 percent of the water utilities throughout the United States. The addition of orthophosphate will form a protective coating on the interior of pipes, which is expected to reduce the amount of lead that is released into the water from service lines, solder, and household plumbing.
In October 2020, Providence Water will begin adding orthophosphate to the water leaving our water treatment plant. You should not see, taste, or smell any difference in your drinking water; however, if you have any concerns or observe any unusual conditions, please contact our Water Quality Hotline at (401) 521-6303.
125 Dupont Drive
Providence, RI 02907
What is orthophosphate and why is it being added to our drinking water?
Orthophosphate is a colorless, tasteless, odorless food-grade ingredient that has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Orthophosphate is being used by approximately 50% of the water utilities throughout the United States. In 2006, the EPA selected orthophosphate treatment as the optimal corrosion control treatment for reducing lead in drinking water. The addition of orthophosphate will form a protective coating on the interior of pipes, which is expected to reduce the amount of lead that is released into the water from sources such as lead service lines, lead-based solder, and household plumbing. Elevated lead levels within drinking water have been found in some homes in Providence Water’s retail area.
Why did you select Orthophosphate?
In 2013, Providence Water organized a panel of nationally recognized drinking water experts (Expert Panel) to find the best form of corrosion control treatment for our system. The Expert Panel recommended the use of orthophosphate, which was then approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. Orthophosphate is approved by the EPA as the optimal corrosion control treatment for reducing lead and is used successfully throughout the United States.
Is Orthophosphate safe?
Yes. Orthophosphate is approved for use by the FDA, EPA, and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). NSF is an independent international testing organization that certifies and writes standards for products, food, air, water and consumer goods in use. According to the EPA, the typical phosphate levels found in a liter of drinking water are about one hundred times lower than the phosphate levels found in the average American diet. For example, a person would have to drink 10 to 15 liters of water to equal the amount of phosphates in just one can of soda.
Will Orthophosphate have any effect on my drinking water?
Orthophosphate should not affect the taste, color or smell of your drinking water.
Where else is Orthophosphate used?
Orthophosphate is used by approximately 50 percent of water utilities throughout the country. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the New England Water Works Association, more than half of the 194 New England water suppliers listed use a phosphate-based corrosion inhibitor.
How will Providence Water monitor the effects of orthophosphate?
Providence Water will continue to test the water on a regular basis to track the water quality and success of the orthophosphate. We will be adhering to an established monitoring process that has been approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Will Orthophosphate in drinking water impact individual septic systems?
There is no evidence that orthophosphate levels found in drinking water will negatively impact septic system functionality.
What else is Providence Water Doing?
Providence Water has adopted a multi-pronged approach to reducing lead in tap water. In addition to improving corrosion control treatment, Providence Water is committed to water main rehabilitation, water main flushing and public education.
Providence Water is now offering 10-year, 0% interest loans for homeowners to replace private lead service lines. If a homeowner replaces the private-side service line, Providence Water will automatically replace the public side at no cost. To find out if a residence has a public lead service line, please visit the interactive map on our website at www.provwater.com/lead.
It is important to note that even if a home does not have a public lead service line, it may still have a private lead service pipe, or lead in fixtures or household plumbing. Providence Water is offering free lead testing to all retail customers in Providence, Cranston, North Providence, Johnston, and the eastern portion of Smithfield. To have a free lead test kit mailed to your home or business, please contact our Water Quality Hotline at 401-521-6303.