Clint Shealy, Assistant City Manger for Columbia Water, spoke July 13 at the St. Andrews Optimists’ breakfast meeting.

Shealy’s responsibilities are managing and overseeing how Columbia deals with tap water, storm water, and waste water quality. The department manages 2,400 miles of pipelines, supplying almost 21 billion gallons of drinking water annually. This volume is produced by two plants, one at Lake Murray and one in the canal facility downtown. Reducing lead content in household water supplies has been a major area of focus for the department, and recent trends have shown dramatic reductions in those levels.

Shealy said a major contributor to lead levels is old copper supply lines that have lead solder joints. This technology has been replaced by safer materials, but it still exists in older homes where it may not be feasible to update the older materials. In those cases, he recommends running tap water for a few seconds so the supply being used is fresher.

The department will soon be replacing all 144,000 water meters in its system with meters that  report readings electronically. From a personnel perspective, meter readers who will no longer be necessary  will be offered new roles within the department. One service offered at no charge to customers is an in-home testing and analysis of individual household water systems.