Water Department

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Water Quality


Our water comes entirely from surface water sources – Sympson Lake and the Beech Fork River. An 8.8 square mile area of the Buffalo Creek watershed feeds Sympson Lake. A 669 square mile area extending upstream from Bardstown toward Chaplin, Springfield and Lebanon feeds the Beech Fork River Pumping Station. The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land and through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.

Contaminants that may be present in our source water include:

  1. Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria that may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.

  2. Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, that can be naturally-occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.

  3. Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.

  4. Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems.

  5. Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the U.S. EPA prescribes regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. FDA regulations establish limits for contaminants in bottled water that shall provide the same protection for public health.

Lead in Drinking Water

What is lead?
Lead is a common naturally occurring metallic element that can be found in air, soil, and water. It is also a powerful toxin that is harmful to human health. Lead was commonly used in gasoline and paint until the 1970s and is still sometimes found in products such as ceramics, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics. Lead has historically been used in plumbing because of its pliability and resistance to leaks up until the last 50 years when the risk to public health was more recognized and measures taken to limit its use.


Lead in Drinking Water
Lead rarely occurs naturally in water supplies such as rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect your house to the water main (service lines). Federal laws passed in 1986 and 2014 reduced the amount of lead that can be used in plumbing materials to 0.25% of the wetted surface, but did not require replacement of existing plumbing or services containing lead.


Potential Health Effects of Lead
Lead can cause health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain to lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults


EPA Regulatory Changes for Drinking Water
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first established a lead and copper rule in 1991 to help reduce exposure and associated health effects from lead in drinking water. EPA revised the rule in 2021, requiring water service providers across the country to determine where lead pipes exist in their systems, including the pipes on the customer side, by 2024.


What is the City of Bardstown Water Department doing to meet these requirements?
The City is in the process of inventorying all of our infrastructure, including customers’ service line materials that are connected to the public system. The City has also developed a Survey customers can use to report if they have lead or galvanized service lines. Identifying where lead or galvanized metal pipes exist on the customer side can help the City determine where lead may exist on the water system side. In the future, the City will share the pipe inventory online and provide information to customers who potentially have lead or galvanized metal on the private, property owner side.

Where can I find more information about Lead in Drinking Water?

EPA’s Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water

EPA’s Sources of Lead in Drinking Water & Information to Reduce Exposure to Lead

CDC Lead in Drinking Water Information

City of Bardstown Consumer Confidence Reports (Includes Lead levels found in Sampling)

Further questions contact the City of Bardstown 502-348-5947