Public Works & Utilities

Lead Water Education

Concerned about lead in your drinking water?

Here's what you should do: 
  • Determine whether your home is connected to a lead service line.
    • To identify the material in the private section of your service line, use this tutorial from NPR 
    • OR request a free inspection by a City of Duluth service technician
    • Once you have identified the material of your service line, please report it to the City of Duluth using the form at the bottom of this webpage. Your home will be added to our inventory of private lead service lines, which will be used to develop both a service line replacement plan, and a mailing list to inform residents of future opportunities, such as free filters and low interest loan programs.
    • To find out if the public section of your service line is lead, contact City of Duluth Engineering at (218) 730-5200.

For residents with a service address in zipcodes:

55802, 55803, 55804,

55805, 55811, 55812

Request Water Service Inspection

For residents with a service address in zipcodes:

55806, 55807,

55808, 55810

Request Water Service Inspection

  • You may consider having your water tested for lead. A full list of laboratories accredited by the state of Minnesota can be found here.
    • Water Labs is a Minnesota-accredited facility in Elk River that offers testing through the mail. Accreditation gives you assurance that the lab is following the appropriate test methods and quality assurance procedures. You can order a test kit here.
    • Healthy Babies Bright Futures is a non-profit organization that has partnered with Virginia Tech to offer testing through the mail. This lab is not accredited by the State, but it offers three tests to help pinpoint sources of lead and better assess risk of exposure. Kits can be ordered on their website.
  • Even if your water does not test high for lead, take steps to limit your and your family’s exposure. We advise everyone to “Clean. Flush. Consume cold." Healthy water habits fact sheet.
  • Consider the use of a certified filter. You can find a list of them here.
  • Consider replacement of your lead service line. Some options for financing this work can be found on the City of Duluth Loans and Incentives website.
    • If you choose to replace your private service line, please notify City of Duluth Engineering at (218) 730-5200. We will update our records and if present, replace the city-owned lead service line.

Lead Removal Program

The Lead Removal Program is currently being developed across multiple city departments to address the presence of lead water service lines in the water distribution system.  

The main goals of this program are:

  • Develop and implement a plan for reducing lead exposure to consumers including replacement of lead services.
  • Create an inventory of the material for each water service line in the city, specifically identifying lead and galvanized pipes.
  • Educate and inform residents of their exposure risk to lead through the drinking water and help mitigate those risks.             

As part of this program, the city is offering free water pitcher filters to residents with water service lines that contain lead.  We will send a voucher to your address which is redeemable at our business office at 520 Garfield Avenue.

For more information regarding the Lead Removal Program or to request a free water pitcher filter, contact us by email  at leadremoval@duluthmn.gov  or call 218-730-5101.

Lead FAQ's

Most of the lead in Duluth’s water system is in service lines connecting homes to water mains. Service lines consist of a city-owned portion (located between the water main and the curb) and a privately-owned portion (located between the curb and the home). Lead service lines were routinely installed in Duluth homes prior to 1930. Approximately 5,000 public lead service lines are still in place today. The number of private lead service lines is not known.

Lead can accumulate in the body over time, causing permanent health effects. Adults may experience high blood pressure and kidney damage while infants and children are at risk for learning, behavior and other health problems. Parents of young children and pregnant women should be particularly aware of the risks associated with lead exposure.

Residents living in older homes are at greater risk since these structures are more likely to contain lead plumbing and/or be connected to a lead service line. 

The most recent compliance testing was conducted in 2019 and 90% of the homes tested had lead concentrations at or below 12 µg/L. The current EPA limit for lead is 15 µg/L and the City of Duluth is in compliance with that limit.

Additional testing was conducted in May 2021 in preparation for changes to EPA regulations, which will take effect in 2024. Among the changes is a new sample collection procedure, which is more likely to capture water that has been sitting in the service line for an extended period of time. This testing showed higher levels of lead than previous monitoring with 90% of samples testing at or below 32 µg/L. The results at the 102 sites tested ranged from no detectable lead to 62 µg/L. Sites with high lead levels were scattered throughout Duluth.

The City of Duluth takes these results seriously and is developing a path forward to address the issue. The City will take a multi-pronged approach, which includes:

  • Providing public outreach to inform residents of the issue and education to help them reduce their exposure to lead
  • Follow-up testing for all homes that tested over 10 µg/L. This testing will help us verify the appropriate flushing time to reduce the concentration of lead
  • Optimization of the water treatment process and investigation into alternate types of corrosion control treatment
  • Creation of a lead service line inventory. This inventory will be used to establish eligibility in the lead removal program and help determine future lead service line removal projects.
  • Lead service line replacement planning. The City is pursuing funding for the full replacement of all lead service lines within the water distribution system.

For more information

www.epa.gov/lead

www.health.state.mn.us/communities/enviorment/water/contaminants/lead.html


To report the material of your private service line, please provide the following information