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Indian Island Gets the Lead Out of Its Water

Water faucet slowly drips. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)
Water faucet slowly drips. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

INDIAN ISLAND -- The Navy reduced the lead in Naval Magazine Indian Island's water pipes by replacing 115 faucets.

None of the samples taken from 10 buildings in January exceeded lead or copper levels that require treatment, according to Navy Region Northwest spokeswoman Sheila Murray.

The base showed up on a recent Environmental Protection Agency list of nearly 1,400 water systems nationwide that exceeded the federal lead standard at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015. The limit is 15 parts per million.

The munition depot's problems appeared earlier than that. In 2012, two consecutive rounds of drinking water showed elevated levels of lead in three of the 10 buildings sampled.

The state Health Department in October 2012 directed the Navy to develop a corrosion treatment system. The Navy didn't know whether the corrosion was coming from World War II-era pipes or from aging faucets on the sinks where the water samples were collected.

Instead of treating the water, the Navy replaced 115 kitchen and bathroom faucets in 22 buildings in August and September 2015. Judging by the January sampling, that solved the problem.

Nobody lives on Indian Island. About 150 people work there.

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