Clean Water PVD

Moving toward lead-free water in Providence, RI

Clean Water PVD is a research project hoping to help advocate for equitable, total lead pipe replacement in Providence, RI. About 10% of kindergarten-aged children in PVD are lead-poisoned.

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Why are lead pipes dangerous?

According to the CDC, both short-term and long-term overexposure to lead can cause severe, life-threatening symptoms. These include neurological symptoms such as depression, forgetfulness, and memory loss. Lead can also cause organ damage, leading to heart or kidney disease. Additionally, lead overexposure may cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, and at low levels of exposure, long-term neurological damage to the child.

Frequently-asked questions

Yes, we recommend that all homeowners and renters living in the Providence area test their water for lead. Lead is a harmful metal, and if consumed in drinking water, could have detrimental long-term physical and psychological consequences for one’s health.

There are two steps in the process of checking whether your water may be exposing you to lead.

First, you can assess whether your house is suspected to have lead lines using Providence Water’s map of suspected lead lines. This method is NOT definitive and should be used in tandem with a lead testing kit.

Second, you may order a free lead testing kit from Providence Water during business hours at (401) 521-6303 or here . Note that it may take in excess of a month to receive your results, unless you contact a private lab (this will likely cost around $20). In the meantime, you should take standard precautions.

Tenants- know your rights: You have the right to know how to protect your family.

When you move in your landlord must give you:

  • An Environmental Protection Agency approved booklet called “How to Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home”
  • A Lead Disclosure Form
  • A copy of the most recent lead inspection report for your rental unit (this should have either a valid Certificate of Conformance or a Lead Safe Certificate).
  • A written statement telling you the name, address, and phone number of the person to contact if there is a problem with your apartment.

Write, Report, Record: You have the right to take action.

  • Report any lead hazards to your landlord in writing. You may use the Notice of Deteriorated Conditions Form to report lead related problems.
  • Write down the hazards that you see, and then give the form or the letter to your landlord. Keep a copy for your records.
  • You may have to leave your unit during repairs. If you have to vacate the unit for more than three consecutive days and nights you may not be required to pay rent for this period of time. If the landlord chooses to provide you with an acceptable place to stay while the repair work is being done, you will have to pay rent. Make sure the arrangements are in writing.

Ask: You have the right to know the answer to these questions.

  • Has the rental unit been inspected for lead?
  • If lead remediation work will take place in my unit, is the person doing the work trained to do lead repair work?
  • For how long will I have to leave the rental unit due to the lead repair work?
  • Will the landlord provide me with a suitable temporary place to stay?

You can file a complaint if you believe the repair work is not adequate, or if your landlord does not fix the lead hazards within 30 days after receiving the Notice of Deteriorated Conditions Form, file a complaint with the Housing Resources Commission.

If you report any lead hazards on your rental property, your landlord cannot force you to leave your apartment, raise your rent, or take any other action to punish you for reporting the lead hazards.

Tenants- know your responsibilities:

  • You are responsible for keeping your rental unit in a clean and sanitary condition.
  • You are responsible for letting your landlord know about any lead hazards.
  • These include chipping, peeling, or cracking paint that you find in your rental unit. Use the Notice of Deteriorated Conditions Form to let your landlord know

Source: State of Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development Landlord Tenant Handbook

Full-cost replacement : Providence Water’s Water “Main Rehabilitation Program” is conducting large-scale water main replacement to eradicate lead and modernize the city’s water mains. This program will NOT replace lead service lines, which are privately owned connections between the public water mains and homes. During construction, however, homeowners have the option to request that Providence Water’s contractor replace the lead service connection from the meter to the curb. To facilitate replacement, Providence Water will provide a no-cost estimate for the repair.

Loan program: Providence Water offers a 10-year, 0% interest loan of up to $4,500 to cover the cost of lead-line replacement. Providence Water will cover all costs in excess of $4,500. To request a loan, as well as a replacement, call (401) 521-6303. As there are limited funds available, there may be a waiting period. Requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit Providence Water’s Loan Program website here.

Whenever your water has not been used for several hours, flush water from a kitchen or bathroom faucet for at least 3-5 minutes. You will use only a few gallons of water to do this and the cost will be just over a penny. You can also save the flushed water for watering houseplants or gardens or for cleaning purposes. Do this process whenever your water has not been used for several hours; for example, when you wake up and when you return home from work or school.

Use COLD water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do NOT cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.

Obtain a water filtration system, which are widely available at most home-goods or department stores. Purchase only filters that pass NSF's testing criteria and bare the NSF mark to ensure that water will be adequately filtered. Leaving a filter in for longer than its recommended life can actually cause levels of lead or other contaminants to increase because of accumulation in the filter.

You can find additional information on managing lead contaminated water at the Environmental Protection Agency’s website here.

Providence Water (PW) is a semi-public water utility that provides all drinking water for the City of Providence, as well as surrounding areas. It is regulated by city ordinances, the Rhode Island Department of Health, as well as the Federal Environmental Protection Agency. Its rate structure is regulated by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission.

Calling representatives Call PUC members Call city council members Call mayor’s office Call governor’s office Contact Providence Water

The city of Providence has yet to develop and execute a full-scale plan for lead eradication in the water system. Currently, Providence Water is conducting its Water Main Rehabilitation Program to replace all of the city’s water mains with new piping that does not include lead. However, this replacement does not include service lines, which connect homes to water mains and may still contaminate drinking water with lead. Furthermore, Providence Water is offering a 10 year, 0% interest loan program to own homeowners with the cost of lead-line replacement.

Service lines are privately owned connections between one’s home and the public water mains. Unlike water mains, which are large pipes that run down all city streets, service lines are owned by the homeowner and run from the curb to the meter. Many service lines in Providence are constructed from lead, and consequently have the potential to contaminate drinking water. While the city is replacing all water mains, they have not yet developed a plan to replace all lead service lines at no cost to the homeowner.

Numerous other cities have conducted full scale lead piping replacements at no cost to the homeowner. For example, the city of Newark is actively replacing all of the city’s water mains, as well as the privately owned lines connecting to homes.