Lead and Copper Rule Improvements


In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency revised its Lead and Copper Rule to better protect children and communities from risks related to lead exposure in drinking water. Improvements in the new rule include requiring water systems to identify and make public locations of lead service lines. The Rehoboth Beach Water Department began efforts in summer 2022 to inventory water service lines on private property.

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Note that the entire water service line, from the main to the building, is owned by the property owner. The city maintains all water service lines from the main to the meter at the expense of the property owner.

The city’s water department serves about 6,000 customers within and around the City of Rehoboth Beach. Like water departments around the country, the Rehoboth Beach Water Department has been tasked through the Lead and Copper Rule revisions with taking an inventory, over the next three years, of service lines on public as well as on private property.

The city has a good understanding of the materials used on the public side of water lines. It knows that about 2,500 of its approximately 6,000 connections from the water main to service lines have lead goosenecks. These lead goosenecks are not considered problematic unless they or the service line are disturbed (for service line repairs, for example). Over time, the city is working to replace these goosenecks as repairs are required or annual replacement is scheduled. All other service lines and connections are believed to be made of materials other than lead, often PVC. The federal government banned the use of lead pipes and solder in new plumbing systems in 1986, but the EPA estimates that 6-10 million lead service lines remain in operation across the country.

A letter was mailed out in May 2022 notifying property owners within the city limits about the need to conduct this inventory on private properties. In most cases, city employees will require brief access to individual home basements or crawl spaces to assess service line materials; this access avoids any need to dig up people’s yards in order to determine service line materials. Eventually, information obtained through the inventory, which must be completed by October 2024, will be posted online as required by the rule revision.

We want to stress that this inventory is being conducted due to new rule mandates and to ensure better protection, especially for children and pregnant women, across the country. It is NOT being conducted out of any concern related to lead in the city’s water system. In fact, lead and copper levels are tested every three years, as required, and the level for both elements is far below the required action level. The city’s 2021 Water Quality Report details sample levels for copper and lead and other regulated contaminants.

lead copper levels


Inventory Progress

The city plans to begin the inventory the week of July 5 from Lake Drive to Philadelphia Street between Bayard Avenue and Scarborough Avenue. Come back to this webpage for updates regarding inventory areas and schedules.

Map of Water Service Line Inventory Progress

Lead service line inventory map

If you were not present when inspections took place in your area or you just prefer to do so, you may schedule an inspection by calling 302-227-6181, ext. 159.

If your service line is determined to be galvanized steel or lead, you may wish to consider these important tips from the EPA.

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Why is the city beginning this survey during the summer? Why not wait until the off-season?

    The city consciously decided to undertake this work in the summer in part because our staff is not working on annual repairs and replacements during the summer, but mostly because the summer is generally when more people are in homes, most of which will need to be physically accessed. If you’d prefer to schedule a specific time for a service line check, in the off-season or anytime, call 302-227-6181, ext. 159.

  • How long will the inspection take?

    Individual inspections will take only a few minutes, less than 15. The city anticipates that inspecting service line material for all 6,000 customers will take approximately a year.

  • But I don’t want the city to dig my yard up!

    We don’t want to either! There are no plans to dig up people’s yards; the city is simply requesting access to your crawl space or basement.

  • Why do you have to come into my house? Can’t you figure out the service line material by looking into the meter pit?

    Our staff will check your meter pit, but in most cases the connection to the water meter isn’t visible from the pit.

  • Are there other options for checking my pipes other than a drop-by visual inspection?

    You can always schedule an inspection at your convenience by calling 302-227-6181, ext. 159. A professional plumber, the one that built your home or business or one that you hire, can certify to the city the material used for water pipes. It may be possible also for you to take a photo of the main shut-off valve to your property, where the water line initially comes into the home or business, and provide that to the city.

  • Will the city let me know if there’s a problem?

    The city plans to leave behind a pre-printed form that tells property owners what material their line is made of and what, if any, actions are recommended. We don’t anticipate finding many lead service lines.

    If a lead pipe is discovered, the city will strongly recommend that property owners replace the entire length of the pipe to the main as soon as possible. Lead in drinking water can be harmful, especially to pregnant or nursing women and children under 6. Property owners should filter their drinking water and consider getting it tested by a lab. Replacement will be at the property owner’s expense.

    Galvanized pipe may also be of concern as it has a tendency to become pitted and lead particles (potentially from a lead gooseneck connector at the main) can get trapped in those pits. The city will recommend that property owners replace galvanized pipe as well. Again, replacement will be at the owner’s expense.

    Replacement will not be required of any owners.

  • I have more questions. Who can I contact?

    If you have additional questions, email [email protected].

Stay Informed!