Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

High levels of lead in Brandon tap water

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High lead levels have been found in the tap water of some older Brandon homes.

Preliminary results of a provincial study show lead contamination in excess of the current national drinking-water guidelines. In one case, the lead concentration was nearly five times the Canadian standard.

City officials called a press conference Thursday where they announced the water in approximately 3,600 households may be affected. These are homes built before 1950, and are most likely to have a lead service connection.

"We're talking about the services that run from the water main on the street to a person's house, connected to your water meter," said Patrick Pulak, the city's deputy director of engineering. "It's an issue that's been experienced by many cities across Canada, as lead pipes or lead services were acceptable construction standards prior to the 1950s."

The provincial pilot project study was undertaken in 2012. It looked at the lead levels in tap water in select homes and buildings in Brandon, Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie and Steinbach.

So far, 11 out of 20 homes have been tested in Brandon. The provincial standard for lead concentration in drinking water is 10 micrograms per litre. The homes tested ranged from 0.5 to 49.5 micrograms per litre.

Results of the study will soon be finalized and homeowners involved are expected to receive their results over the next few days.

City manager Scott Hildebrand said after receiving the preliminary results, they felt being "proactive" was the best way to go.

"We felt... providing our residents with proper information and resources to help was the right thing to do," Hildebrand said.

Pulak stressed that the lead concerns do not relate to the city's water-treatment facility or the distribution system.

"Our distribution system... still meets the federal guidelines for lead concentrations of drinking water," Pulak said.

The city is partnering with ALS Environmental Labs of Winnipeg to provide tap-water testing service for homeowners concerned about lead levels.

 

-- Brandon Sun

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2013 A5

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