Lead in Drinking Water Fountains

Lead is a naturally occurring metal with a wide variety of uses in manufacturing due to its soft, malleable and corrosion-resistant properties. In Australia, the main sources of lead exposure are from employment involving lead, old paint during home renovations, recreational shooting, hobbies involving lead, and some alternative medicines. 

Town drinking water supplies are managed by TasWater and regulated by the Tasmanian Department of Health, who require among other things routine monitoring of water quality, including testing for lead, in accordance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Lead can dissolve into drinking water from some plumbing fittings, particularly where water has been sitting in contact with these fittings for long periods of time.

Over the past 12 months, all drinking water fountains in the Hobart area installed and managed by the City of Hobart, have been tested for compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Some have been found to be above the standard for lead, and those that have failed have been taken offline until it can be demonstrated that they are in compliance.

Public drinking water fountains and publicly accessible taps may not get regular use and flushing which allows water to become stagnant and stay in contact with plumbing fittings. It is therefore good practice to flush public drinking water fountains and publicly accessible taps for about 30 seconds to draw fresh water to the outlet prior to consumption or use.

There is no need for households to have their water tested for lead. For further information regarding households, view the enHealth Guidance Statement or visit the Department of Health website.

For further information please contact the City of Hobart Environmental Health Unit on 03 6238 2715.