Street Construction Poses Hidden Danger Of Lead-laced Drinking Water

Jul 20, 2017


Manuel Ortiz looks out his living room window to the street construction outside his home. Ortiz says he wasn't informed that replacing a water main could cause lead to leach into his tap water from the lead service lines delivering water to his house on the 3000 block of north Rosehill Street in North Philadelphia.
Credit Catalina Jaramillo / StateImpact PA

About five years ago, doctors found high levels of lead in the blood of Manuel Ortiz’s oldest son. Ortiz and his wife were surprised. They say Manuel Jr. acted like a normal kid.

Health inspectors told them the culprit was lead-based paint in their rented apartment. Ortiz says the landlord didn’t do anything to fix it, so the family moved out as soon as they could.

What Ortiz didn’t know, was that he moved into a house with a lead service line, which could mean he and his son were drinking water with lead in it. And now, the water department wants to do work on his street that could make the lead levels in his water spike.

But until a reporter showed up at his doorstep, Ortiz said nobody told him about the danger to Manuel Jr. lurking in their water taps.

Find the rest of this story at the StateImpact Pennsylvania website.