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Leesburg maintains high water quality, but some homes still have trace levels of lead

Leesburg’s water has continued to meet or exceed federal expectations, according to the 2016 Water Quality Report released Monday.

“Leesburg residents can be confident that their drinking water is pure and safe,” Mayor Kelly Burk said in a prepared statement.

The report showed that amounts of all major contaminants fell well below the actionable level. Leesburg has received the “Excellence in Waterworks Performance Award” from the Virginia Department of Health for 13 consecutive years.

During 2016 Leesburg reached a rigorous goal of 0.1 NTU of turbidity. Turbidity measures water’s clarity, or freedom from dirt or other contaminants. The average person notices turbidity at 5 NTU, and the EPA requires turbidity of 0.3 or less.

Leesburg’s fluoride level is 0.85 parts per million, at the lower end of the recommended range.

Some Leesburg homes, especially those built before the late 1980s, do have trace amounts of lead in their water supply because they use older pipes. The 32 homes built between 1984 and 1987 that provided water samples to the town had an average of less than 1 part per billion (ppb) of lead. One home had as high as 9 ppb, while others had negligible amounts. The EPA's actionable amount is 15 ppb. Leesburg water coming out of the treatment plant has no lead.

The Leesburg Utilities Department suggests reducing lead by running water for 15 to 30 seconds -- or until it reaches a steady temperature -- after a tap has lain unused for several hours.

Leesburg gets 96 percent of its water from the Potomac River and runs it through the town’s Kenneth B. Rollins Water Filtration Plant. The remaining 4 percent comes from the groundwater produced by the Paxton Well.

To keep the Potomac River and all of Leesburg’s water resources safe, the town recommends that citizens follow common-sense environmental practices, such as using less fertilizer and applying it in the fall rather than the spring, when higher rains lead to the runoff of harmful chemicals.

To learn more water preservation tips and read the report in greater detail, visit http://www.leesburgva.gov/waterqualityreport.

Correction: A previous version of this story misinterpreted the water quality report and implied water coming from the Leesburg plant contained lead.

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