City of Brandon Public Statement on Lead Water Services
February 7th, 2013 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brandon, MB – The City of Brandon wishes to advise the public that preliminary results from a Province of Manitoba study on lead concentrations in drinking water have been shared with the City and indicate that, in some older Brandon homes where lead water service connections are present, lead concentration levels have been found to be in excess of current national drinking water guidelines.
However, it is important to note that Brandon’s drinking water supply leaving the City’s water treatment system continues to be safe and meets the provincial standards for lead concentrations in drinking water of 0.01 milligrams per litre.
Province of Manitoba Pilot Project Study
A pilot project study was undertaken by the Province of Manitoba in 2012 in the context of ongoing work at the national level related to lead in drinking water. It looked at the lead levels in tap water in select homes and buildings in the communities of Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Steinbach. The pilot project measured lead concentrations in water at the tap to determine what impact, if any, lead water services or lead-containing solder joints have on lead concentrations.
Health Canada is using the information obtained from the province’s pilot project study as background in the development of new national guidelines to further reduce lead exposures. This is part of an ongoing federal review of national drinking water quality guideline for lead, as outlined in their draft document for public consultation titled “Lead - State of the Science Report and Risk Management Strategy,” which was announced in 2011.
The City of Brandon has committed to examining how the issue of lead service connections can be addressed in the community and plans to work closely with the Province of Manitoba and Health Canada on this emerging issue. Results from the Province’s Pilot Project Study will soon be finalized and homeowners involved in the study will be sent letters from the Province of Manitoba explaining their results. Moving forward, the results will also help determine levels of exposure to lead in drinking water in homes and buildings at highest risks.
Lead Services in Brandon
Homes built before 1950 are most the likely to have a lead service connection. It is estimated there are approximately 3,600 homes within the City of Brandon built prior to 1950 that may still have lead service connections remaining on the public right-of-way, which stretches from the water main to the property line. However, the City does not have access to information on how many homes built prior to 1950 may still have lead service connections from their property line running into the residence.
Homeowners who wish to determine if they have lead services from their property line running into their homes may first wish to check their water intake valve, which should be exposed at the point where their water service connects to their water meter. If the service line is greyish-silver in colour (as opposed to copper-coloured), it most likely is a lead service.
To further aid the public in determining whether they may have lead service connections, either on the public right-of-way or from their property line to their residence, a map illustrating the City of Brandon’s pre-1950 water main connections can be viewed below:
Click on the map above for a larger view (PDF).
Testing for Lead
Homeowners on property that is likely to have lead water service may wish to have their tap water tested. While there is a cost to the homeowner to have their tap water tested for lead, the City of Brandon is attempting to make such testing as convenient as possible by partnering with ALS Environmental Labs of Winnipeg.
As early as next week, individuals can pick up a sample bottles from the City of Brandon’s Engineering Department on the 2nd floor of City Hall. For individuals who reside in identified areas where pre-1950 lead connections may exist (as per the City of Brandon’s water main map), the cost to the homeowner for such a test will be $20. For all other individuals, the cost to the homeowner will be $45 for such a test. The samples, once taken by the homeowner following the attached instructions, can be returned to the City’s Engineering department, which will then send it to the lab in Winnipeg for testing.
For more information on how to voluntarily have your drinking water tested for lead concentrations, individuals can call the City of Brandon’s Engineering Department at 204-729-2477.
The City of Brandon urges individuals that the only definitive way to determine potential elevated lead levels in drinking water is to undertake lead testing by a certified lab. However, individuals concerned about the potential presence of lead in their water may also wish to purchase a point-of-use filtration system, which attaches directly to the tap and removes lead from the water supply.
The treatment device should be certified to meet the NSF International (NSF)/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for removal of lead. Such systems are available locally at select home improvement stores. Though the City of Brandon does not endorse any specific manufacturer, one specific product in question manufactured by Brita is explained in the following link: http://www.brita.ca/how-brita-works.
Individuals who live in homes with lead service connections can also lower lead levels that may exist in tap water by avoiding drinking any water that has been sitting in the plumbing system for a long time, such as overnight or during the workday. If this is the course of action taken, it is suggested that homeowners flush the toilet, take a shower or start a load of laundry first thing in the morning or after work to clear the water from the service connection. Then run the tap until the water turns cold to clear the water that has been sitting in the plumbing. Then fill a container and keep it in the fridge for drinking or cooking.
Lead Services Replacement
If elevated lead levels are determined to be present in a home’s drinking water, the homeowner may also wish to consider the long-term solution of having their lead service connections replaced.
The City of Brandon offers a program through which it will provide a certain level of financial assistance to property owners in conjunction with the replacement of lead water services connections on public property.
Within the program, the City will pay for 50 % of the cost to replace the lead water service connection from the watermain to the property line, provided the property is a single-family, owner-occupied residence and the flow registered at the first tap nearest the water main is 3 gallons or less per minute. It is important to note that the cost to replace lead service from the property line into the home is 100 % borne by the homeowner.
For more information about the program, people can call the City of Brandon Engineering Department at 204-729-2477.
Health Effects of Lead
Information about the health risks and effects of lead, provided by the Province of Manitoba, can also be found here: http://www.manitoba.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/lead.html
The Province of Manitoba also offers public health information via its Health Links phone line, a 24-hour, 7-days a week telephone information service which can be accessed by calling anytime (204) 788-8200 or toll-free 1-888-315-9257.
Added on February 8th, 2013
Province of Manitoba Resources