By Ryan Hill

FOLSOM (CBS13) — It’s the million-dollar question flooding the minds of people in Folsom since July. What’s causing the pinhole leaks in copper pipes?

“I kind of vaguely read about the pinhole leaks in Folsom,” Maya Majid, who had pinholes in her copper pipes, said.

“We were wondering what’s happening and where else it can happen,” Jagat Shah, who also had pinholes, said.

People like Shah and Majid are dealing with the fallout after paying thousands of dollars to repair the damage caused by these pinhole leaks in their copper pipes.

“I came home from work late at night to find my kitchen ceiling just hanging,” Majid said.

“I’m in this for $8,500. There’s some people that are in this for $40,000,” Hal Malmquist, Majid’s neighbor who also had a pinhole leak, said.

Now, the 1,150 people impacted by the leaks are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The city of Folsom released new findings from a study done by consultant Black & Veatch that said the source of pinhole leaks may be due to the water’s purity combined with a pH level above 9.0 and the use of chlorine.

“That has the potential to create pitting within certain parts of copper pipe. And this can occur where there might be impurities in the pipe or where there might be sediment that has settled in the pipe,” Marcus Yasutake, City of Folsom’s Environmental And Water Resources Department Director, said.

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CBS13 wanted to know how that process leads to the pinhole leaks.

“Because the water is low in organic matter, it will try to stable itself to become more in equilibrium. And what the water will do is physically pull ions or, in this case, copper from the copper pipe,” Yasutake said.

That leads to a pit in the pipe and turns into the pesky pinhole leaks. The city has been using orthophosphate as a treatment process for the copper pipes since October 8th, adding the non-harmful acid to the water would form a protective coating inside the pipes to slow or prevent pinholes from happening.

It’s an answer to the problem. But, some think there’s more to the pinhole puzzle.

“We’ve been drawing our water out of this lake for 50 years and all of a sudden this is just happening? Like I said, I don’t think anyone has done this purposely. I think we need to find out why it happened,” Malmquist said.

CBS13 asked Yasutake why the pH levels in the water had reached a level higher than 9.0.

“We haven’t figured out the specific answer yet but, determining what the potential causes are that can get the pH to adjust above the 9.0 level,” Yasutake said.

The director added that consultants said it could be caused by residual lime in the water during the treatment process or the condition of the pipes.


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