Leaky pipes can allow contaminants into our drinking water

Leaking water pipes can allow potentially harmful contaminants into our drinking water, new research has shown. The study, by engineers at the University of Sheffield, is the first to prove conclusively that contaminants can enter pipes through leaks and be transported through the pipe network.

The pressure in mains water pipes usually forces water out through leaks, preventing anything else from getting in. But when there is a significant pressure drop in a damaged section of pipe, water surrounding the pipe can be sucked in through the hole.

It had been assumed that only clean water from the leak would be sucked in, and that even if contaminants were sucked in these would simply be ejected once the pressure returned to normal. The new study has shown, however, that groundwater from around the pipe - which often contains harmful contaminants - can be sucked in, remain in the pipe and travel on through the network.
READ MORE: http://phys.org/news/2015-06-leaky-pipes-contaminants.html