Lead in drinking water

We make sure the water leaving our treatment plants is lead-free. But if it travels through lead pipes, small amounts can end up in the water you use and drink.

Why are lead pipes a problem?

You might not think that drinking water with very small amounts of lead could cause too much of a problem.

But if you carry on drinking the same water over time, it will build up in your body and become harmful. Young children and pregnant women are particularly at risk of the effects of lead.

That’s why it’s important you find out if your home has lead pipework. This is more likely if it was built before 1970, but your pipes might also be joined by lead solder if they were installed before 1987. 

How to check for lead pipes

  1. Find the pipe leading to your internal stop tap and the kitchen tap (it’s usually under your kitchen sink or in the downstairs toilet).
  2. Unpainted lead pipes will be dark grey or black, and their joints will look swollen.
  3. Scrape the pipes gently with a coin. If they’re lead, shiny silver strips will appear.
  4. Tapping a lead pipe with a metal object will produce a dull thud rather than a clear ringing.

If you’re not sure, or concerned, call our Lead Advice Line on 0345 070 3445 to book a free lead test or use our online form.

How to reduce the amount of lead in water

  • Use cold tap water for drinking or cooking. Hot tap water will dissolve more lead than cold water. Only use cold water when mixing infant formula.
  • Run the tap for a couple of minutes. If water has stood in your pipes for a few hours or more, run the taps before you use water for drinking or cooking.

Did you know?

Boiling your water might sterilize it – but it won't remove lead.

Who’s responsible for which pipes?

We look after the pipes in the road leading up to the boundary of your property, but the pipes inside that boundary, including the plumbing inside your home, are your responsibility.

If you replace your pipes, and let us know, we’ll make sure the pipe leading to your home isn’t lead either. If you rent, and you’re worried about lead, we suggest you talk to your landlord.

Please make sure you’re only using approved materials and a qualified plumber – find a plumber we’ve already approved.

Our Connections Team will be happy to advise you on the best way replacing your pipe. Contact them on 0345 60 66 087.

Discover who is responsible for the pipework around your home.

What we’re doing about lead

Anglian Water is reducing the amount of lead which could potentially dissolve in the water we supply, in line with new EU limits of lead in drinking water. We’re replacing lead pipes across our region and installing additional equipment at some of our water treatment works.

We’re also working with housing associations, local authorities, health professionals and householders to raise awareness and encourage replacement of lead pipework.

If you’re a business customer, contact your retailer for more information.

Top tips

  • If you run off any water from your taps, don’t waste it, collect and use for watering houseplants or in the garden.
  • Download this helpful guide on how to test for lead pipes, and what to do if you think you’ve found them in your home.