Checking for lead in water lines in Mount Sterling

(Posted May 22, 2023)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Does the water service line coming into your home contain lead? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to know.

“The EPA is requiring all municipalities to check for lead water pipes leading into homes. The goal is to get all lead pipes out due to the health risk factor,” said Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer for the village of Mount Sterling.

Mount Sterling has partnered with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) to get this done. In Ohio, RCAP is operated by the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, a national network of non-profit partners working to provide technical assistance, training, resources, and support to rural communities.

RCAP has created a survey for homeowners, asking if they have ever had their water service line replaced, if their line has ever contained lead, and what materials make up their home’s internal plumbing.

The survey also asks homeowners to conduct a scratch test, if they are able, to determine if their water service line contains lead. The instructions are included in the survey form, as is a link to an online instructional video. Homeowners must find the water line going from their house to the water meter inside, then use a key, coin, or screwdriver to scratch the pipe. The appearance of the pipe after the scratch is an indicator as to whether it contains lead. Another indicator is magnetism; lead is not magnetic.

After filling out the questionnaire and the results of the scratch test, homeowners are asked to submit their completed survey to RCAP or drop it off at Mount Sterling Town Hall, 1 S. London St. Residents can pick up surveys in the lobby of town hall or download them from the village’s website. A link can be found on the right side of the village’s home page,

“It’s very important that we do this,” said Tom Byrne, Mount Sterling’s village administrator. “It’s important to the entire community that we get rid of these lead lines coming into our homes.”

Byrne said it should take homeowners less than 30 minutes to fill out the survey and conduct the scratch test.

“If you need help doing the scratch test, call town hall and we’ll come over and help you with the procedure,” he added.

Village leaders would like to have surveys back from all residents by the end of the summer. They will follow up with anyone that doesn’t respond.

If a homeowner discovers their water service line contains lead, they must replace it at their own cost.

The village is looking into grants to help homeowners with those costs, Bricker said. First, though, the village must identify how many replacements are needed.

For more information, contact Misty Vance, Mount Sterling’s utilities clerk, at or (740) 869-2040.

For more about RCAP, go to For more about the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, visit

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