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Columbia Water and Light to begin water testing for lead and copper in March


Columbia Water and Light said late Tuesday that workers will start to collect water samples to test for lead and copper next month after violating monitoring rules.

The city has promised to publish the test results as soon as they're available.

This decision comes after the city received a violation from the Department of Natural Resources for failing to submit samples for lead and copper analysis in water supplies in 2022.

According to a press release from the city, the violation was for a lack of lead and copper testing from customers' homes.

The city claims to conduct daily tests throughout the water production process to ensure Columbia's water supply is safe.

The last lead and copper test was conducted in 2019 due to state requirements, and no concerns were found. The city has set up a phone line and email for anyone with concerns to contact Deidra McClendon, laboratory supervisor, to request a test at home. She can be reached at 573-874-6242 or at

The problems caused by lead in drinking water took on a higher profile after the Flint water crisis, when high levels of lead from corroded pipes were found in the Flint, Michigan water system.

Lead can enter drinking water due to corrosion of plumbing. Some instances include pipes made of lead that connect a house to the water main, brass and chrome-plated faucets and lead-based solder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, small amounts of lead can pose severe health risks. Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body over months or even years. Children under 6 and the elderly are most at risk.

Signs and symptoms in children include:

  • Developmental delay
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Hearing loss
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Although children are the primary risk for lead poisoning, adults are also at risk.

Signs and symptoms in adults include:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Mood disorders
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Abdominal pains

Lead can also lead to reproductive issues in both men and women.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

Ethan Heinz


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