MD's Lead Test Program Underway

Please be advised that the MD will be conducting a Lead Test Program from May to September, 2021. Alberta Environment and Parks has decreased their maximum allowable concentration of lead in drinking water from 10 micrograms/L to 5 micrograms/L.

There is no measurable amount of lead in the drinking water when it leaves the water treatment plant and enters the distribution system. To remain in compliance with AEP standards, the MD must test lead levels in residential buildings to ensure that lead is not leaching into the drinking water through possible lead service lines found within residential buildings.

To learn about testing for lead in drinking water, visit the Water & Utilities section of the MD website or the AEP guidance documents published by the Alberta government.

What are the effects of lead in drinking water?

Although some lead occurs naturally in water, elevated levels of lead can be harmful to pregnant women and children under the age of 6 years. Elevated lead levels can impact normal physical and mental development in fetuses, babies, and young children. Mental deficits of elevated lead include reduced attention span, hearing, and learning abilities in children. It can also increase blood pressure in adults. Lead is only a problem in consumed water, so you can still safely shower/bath and use it for other things.

How does lead get into the drinking water?

The lead leaches into the water when it is sitting still in a lead service line (LSL) or lead fixture.

What can I do to protect myself from the harmful effects of lead?

  • Volunteer for the Lead Testing Program. A sample bottle, along with simple instructions on sample collection, will be provided to you. A utilities operator will collect the sample from your home on an agreed upon date and time. Laboratory test results will be communicated to you within 14 days of the MD receiving the results from the accredited testing facility.
  • Replace any lead plumbing fixtures and LSLs.
  • Point of use (POU) systems – water filters designed to reduce lead in the drinking water.
  • Ensure the POU system chosen is NSF-53 certified for lead reduction. Maintain the POU system according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The different POU systems are:
    • Filtered water pitcher
    • Tap-mount water filtration unit
    • Fridge – water dispenser unit
    • Under-the-counter water filtration unit
    • Reverse osmosis unit
  • Do not use hot water from the tap for food preparation/drinking – hot water leaches more lead. Run the tap for 1 minute or until the water is cold, then heat the water if needed.
  • Run the tap for 5 minutes if the tap has not been used for over 6 hours, such as early in the morning, returning home from work, or returning home from vacation.

How can I determine if my home has a lead service line (LSL)?

  • If your home was built prior to 1975, there is a chance there are LSLs in your home
  • Consider hiring a licensed plumber to inspect your home for lead fixtures and LSLs, OR
  • Visually inspect your home for LSLs:
    • Locate the water meter
    • Check pipe colour coming out of the ground and into the water meter. You may have to lightly sand the surface of the pipe. A pipe that is the same colour as a Canadian penny is copper. A pipe that is blue/green in colour is plastic. These pipes are not LSLs. If the pipe is grey, it could be an LSL.
    • For grey pipes, check the hardness of the pipe by taking a sharp object (i.e. screwdriver or key) and gently etch into the pipe. If the exposed colour is bright silver, it could be an LSL. Do not etch into the pipe if you believe it to be copper or plastic.
    • After the visual inspection, if you believe you have an LSL in your home, we recommend volunteering for the lead testing program, replacing the LSL, and/or using a NSF-53 Certified POU system listed in this letter.

What if I am renting and would like to participate in the Lead Testing Program?

If you are renting, you will need permission from your landlord to participate in the Lead Testing Program.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

The personal information you provide is being collected under the authority of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Potable Water Regulation 16(1) for the sole purpose of conducting the waterworks system lead survey of tap water.

Please note that your tap water sample results and your address will be disclosed to Alberta Environment and Parks as part of required reporting under this program. Your personal information will not be shared further unless you provide additional consent to do so. By providing your tap water sample and personal information, you are consenting to this collection, use and disclosure.

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