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Potential corrosivity of untreated groundwater in the United States

July 12, 2016

Corrosive groundwater, if untreated, can dissolve lead and other metals from pipes and other components in water distribution systems. Two indicators of potential corrosivity—the Langelier Saturation Index (LSI) and the Potential to Promote Galvanic Corrosion (PPGC)—were used to identify which areas in the United States might be more susceptible to elevated concentrations of metals in household drinking water and which areas might be less susceptible. On the basis of the LSI, about one-third of the samples collected from about 21,000 groundwater sites are classified as potentially corrosive. On the basis of the PPGC, about two-thirds of the samples collected from about 27,000 groundwater sites are classified as moderate PPGC, and about one-tenth as high PPGC. Potentially corrosive groundwater occurs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

National maps have been prepared to identify the occurrence of potentially corrosive groundwater in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Eleven states and the District of Columbia were classified as having a very high prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, 14 states as having a high prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, 19 states as having a moderate prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, and 6 states as having a low prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater. These findings have the greatest implication for people dependent on untreated groundwater for drinking water, such as the 44 million people that are self-supplied and depend on domestic wells or springs for their water supply.