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Seattle, run your water to flush out possible lead

File Photo of an old water fountain.
Flickr Photo/Paul Domenick (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)/

Utility officials in Seattle say residents should turn on the faucet for a few minutes if the water hasn't run for six hours. The precaution comes after high levels of lead were found in water lines connected to four Tacoma homes.


Seattle Public Utilities spokesman Andy Ryan says Seattle and Tacoma have separate water lines. But in both cities, there are lines that have old sections of lead pipe called goosenecks.

Ryan said it's in about 2,000 older Seattle homes, but the locations aren't recorded. There are about 1,700 lines with the fittings in Tacoma.

Ryan says before now he would have said goosenecks don't concern him.

Ryan: "And if you asked me today, which you are, after Tacoma's study has come out, the results that Tacoma got back give us sufficient concern that we are going to take some fairly extraordinary safety steps and ask people in Seattle to run their water for a couple of minutes before they use it."

Running the water can flush out any buildup that has accumulated over several hours.

Seattle Public Utilities is also going to test the water and plans to announce initial results next week.

Ryan says the city doesn't have record of where the gooseneck fittings are because they were not tracked when they were installed decades ago. Utility crews replace them when found.

In Tacoma, some of the samples had lead nearly seven times above the federal limit.

Lead can cause learning problems in kids and heart or kidney problems in adults, among other things.