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Lead Management Program

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Town of Penhold Lead Management Program 

In March 2019, a new lead limit was published under the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality, lowering the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) from 0.010 mg/L (10 µg/L) to 0.005 mg/L (5 µg/L) and changing the point of compliance to the customer’s tap. Fetuses, infants and children are most at risk for neurodevelopmental adverse health effects from lead.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) now requires waterworks systems to implement a Lead Management Program. The program is to be done in 2 phases; Phase 1 – Planning, Assessment and Implementation (2020 – 2024); Phase 2 – Mitigation (2025 Onward). The goal of phase 1 is to identify if the number of lead services in Alberta is of concern.

You cannot see, smell or taste lead in water. Laboratory testing of water from the tap is the only way to determine the lead levels in your drinking water. The goal is to determine which homes have lead services lines, or are likely to, and to test the water accordingly. Timeframes are limited, as testing is recommended during warm water periods of May and September.

The Town of Penhold will be sampling for lead from May 1, 2021 to September 30, 2021. Based on population, AEP requires 40 samples to be taken during phase 1. All samples will be done randomly throughout the Town of Penhold, focusing on the areas around Town that are most likely to test positive for lead. Letters will be mailed out to residents whose homes have been selected for testing, and when Public Works receives the sample results, homeowners will be notified within 14 days. Please note, homes with filtration systems or any in home treatment systems will not be eligible for lead sampling.

The Municipal Government Act makes you, the residential property owner, responsible for the water service connection on your property as well as the plumbing in your home. Typically, lead service connections are found in older homes built before 1960. The Town of Penhold is responsible for the service connection pipes between the property line and the water main in the street.

Homes constructed before 1960 may have lead water service lines. Both lead and copper piping were used up until this time, when copper water service lines became the standard in the plumbing industry. Lead based solder can be another source of lead in drinking water, as this type of solder was used for plumbing until the mid-to-late eighties.

Over a period of time, the pipes begin to corrode, which results in lead entering drinking water. As water sits overnight and is in contact with lead materials for hours at a time, the water may accumulate lead levels that could become a concern. 

Schools, hotels, commercial buildings or work camps will not be sampled during phase 1 of the Lead Management Program. Phase 1 is focused on residences, which is defined as a private dwelling suitable and intended for year-round non-transient occupation.

The drinking water leaving the Water Reservoir and in the distributions system is well below the new maximum acceptable concentration (MAC). However, lead may be present in household tap water due to the presence in the service connection or in household plumbing systems containing lead, including solder and brass fittings.

The most common sources are lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, faucets made of brass and chrome-plated brass, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect a home to the water main (service lines); Lead paint and the contaminated dust and soil it generates are the primary source of lead exposure in older households.

Most residential properties with lead service lines have 5/8” (16 mm) diameter water pipes. If your home has been renovated, the water service line may have been replaced with 3/4” (19 mm) diameter pipes, which would provide more consistent water pressure and higher flow rates.

How do I check what my water lines are made of?

1.) Locate the water meter, usually found in the basement.  (See sample water meter below)

2.) Look at the pipe coming up through the basement floor into the bottom of the water meter.

If it is lead, you will notice the pipe is:

- grey in colour

- does not echo if you gently strike it

- scratches easily

- leaves metallic marks when you rub the scratched area against paper.

How can I limit my exposure to lead?

Flush standing water in pipes each morning to clear water from the plumbing and home service line to ensure the drinking water comes from the main service line. 

Do this by:

- Flushing the toilet;

- Washing your hands; or

- Letting the water run for five minutes or until it is cold to the touch.

- Use cold water for drinking and cooking. Hot water dissolves more lead from plumbing. Boiling water DOES NOT remove lead.

Some home water treatment devices remove lead, but not all do. Always check the model specifications before buying.

If a lead line is present, it does not necessarily mean that lead is in the water, however, it does mean that the potential of lead exists.

You can also arrange for your own testing by an accredited and licensed private laboratory.