Information on Lead In Drinking Water


Health impacts of lead

Exposure to lead can cause serious health effects in all age groups. Infants and children who drink water containing lead could have decreases in IQ and attention span and increases in learning and behavior problems. Lead exposure among women who are pregnant increases prenatal risks. Lead exposure among women who later become pregnant has similar risks if lead stored in the mother's bones is released during pregnancy. Recent science suggests that adults who drink water containing lead have increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney or nervous system problems.

Where does lead in water come from?

Lead is not found in Rochester’s source water or in the water mains. Lead can be present in the service lines connecting homes to water mains and in brass fixtures, faucets, and solder in copper plumbing. These items can pass lead into the water you use for drinking and cooking. The video below was developed by the American Water Works Association to explain how lead can get into drinking water and what you can do to protect your household. 

Click Here for FAQs for Lead in Drinking Water

To ensure you are getting the best quality water possible, we recommend taking the following steps: 

Step 1 - Find out if there is lead in your tap water:

 Find Out If You Have a Lead Service Line: Water service material records are available in the Property Information Application. Enter address and click “Water” tab or call the Water Dispatch office at (585) 428-7500.

Have Your Water Tested for Free: Contact the Water Bureau’s Laboratory at (585) 428-6680 Ext 1, or by email.

Inspect Your Plumbing:

  • Learn how to identify sources of lead in your home's plumbing with this online guide
  • Use this guide to identify your inside water service material and report it to the Rochester Water Bureau TODAY. 
  • If you are unable to identify your water service line make an appointment with a City of Rochester water technician to do it for you  
  • EPA's guide for How to Identify Lead Free Certification Marks for Drinking Water System & Plumbing Products.
  • Contact a licensed plumber: Call the City’s Bureau of Buildings and Zoning Permit Office at (585) 428-6526 or visit the Licensed Trades web page

 Step 2 - Use these simple steps to minimize lead in your tap water:

  1. Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Hot water dissolves lead more quickly.
  2. Flush your pipes any time water has been unused for more than 4-6 hours. Lead levels are highest when water has been sitting in the pipe. Run your cold water for 3 to 5 minutes to ensure complete flushing.
  3. Routinely clean faucet screens which can accumulate lead and rust particles.
  4. Use a water filter that is certified NSF 53 to remove lead. Find out more at The City will provide a free lead filtering water pitcher if your water service has been disturbed due to construction. Just call us at (585) 428-7500. The filter pitchers are very effective. We tested them in our laboratory and are sharing the results HERE.

 Step 3 - Take steps to replace all lead-containing plumbing in your home. Consider replacing your inside water service if it contains lead.

EPA Hotline and Information

Other sources of lead

Childhood lead poisoning is nearly always the result of ingesting lead dust from deteriorated lead-based paint in the home. Make sure your house or apartment is safe from lead hazards by scheduling a FREE lead inspection with the City by calling (585) 428-6520. More information is available from the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning.

Click Here for information regarding our Lead Service Line Replacement Projects.


Water Supply