Pemberton's mayor says the village was already installing additions to the water system in an effort to raise pH levels when it discovered elevated levels of lead in some homes earlier this month.

Tests of the water from 20 homes found lead levels as high as six times the maximum acceptable concentration under Canadian guidelines. The village says the lead levels were caused by relatively acidic water reacting with pipes in older homes.

"It's knowing what kind of pH system we need to install and that right now is our number one biggest priority," said Mayor Mike Richman.

"The other priority is getting the information out to the public so they know what's going on."

Elevated levels of lead have also been found in four Prince Rupert schools and Victoria's legislature building this year. 

An ongoing issue

The village has known about low pH levels in its water supply for almost a decade, says Richman, and since 2007 it has installed new wells, reservoirs, and a new looping and chlorination system.

The looping system was finalized about a year ago, according to Richman, and that's when council made it a priority to look into how effective those systems were in lowering the acidity of the village's water. 

It found that the new additions to the water system did raise the pH level in the village's water a little, but not enough to lower lead levels in some older homes to an acceptable level.

The acidic water has also be blamed for corroding plumbing and shortening the life span of hot water tanks.

Richman says the village will continue to work on a permanent solution.  

"I understand people's frustration absolutely, knowing that there's been low pH in the water for some time," he said.

"We've already started on the solution, which is to figure out what kind of pH conditioning system we can add to our water system."

Until then, residents are advised to flush their tap water until it turns cold prior to drinking it or using it for cooking.

Results from a second round of testing, this time of tap water after flushing, will be available later this week, according to Richman.

With files from CBC Radio's The Early Edition


To listen to the full interview, click the link labelled: Pemberton already working on solution to reduce lead in water, says mayor.