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HEALTH and Providence Water Supply Board Announce Joint Initiative

PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Providence Water Supply Board(PWSB) have signed an agreement on a joint initiative aimed at improving public health outcomes in preventing childhood lead poisoning and improving drinking water quality for PWSB customers.

According to the terms of a consent order signed by Michael Fine, M.D., director of HEALTH, and Boyce Spinelli, general manager of PWSB, HEALTH will grant a stay on its requirement that PWSB replace seven percent of its lead service connection lines during the 2012 season to allow further analysis of data on the effectiveness of the partial lead service replacement program in lowering lead levels in water delivered at the tap. The consent order specifies that PWSB will convene an expert advisory panel to evaluate corrosion control treatment in its water system, as well as any treatment adjustments needed to achieve recommended lead action levels.

PWSB will also contribute $500,000 to HEALTH's lead poisoning prevention program.

"In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Science Advisory Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and local lead poisoning advocates have all raised questions about the effectiveness and safety of partial lead service line replacements in lowering blood lead levels in children," said Dr. Fine, adding that further analysis will be conducted by the expert advisory panel. "Some data show that partial lead service line replacement does not significantly change the low concentration of lead in water delivered at the tap."

"We are pleased to collaborate with HEALTH in the development of viable alternative solutions to the challenges that lead present today," said Spinelli, adding, "it just makes more sense to re-allocate the $8 million LSR budget this year to a three-tiered plan designed to: 1.) help prevent lead poisoning in toddlers, the highest at-risk segment of the population; 2.) assemble a team of nationally-acclaimed water experts help us reduce our water's effect on the corrosion of lead in household plumbing, and; 3) accelerate our water main replacement program with the lion's share of that budget to improve overall water quality for customers throughout our system."

PWSB will remain on standard monitoring, and HEALTH will continue to monitor PWSB's efforts to replace full lead lines.

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Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 07-27-2012

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