Lead levels in water worry Manitobans
Western Manitoba cities show excess levels of lead in tap water
The results of a provincial water test have some Manitobans pausing before they turn on the tap.
Provincial officials released the preliminary results of a water study and found excess levels of lead in several western Manitoba cities including Brandon.
Brandonite Tara Gushalek said she had never thought twice about drinking her tap water before the results of the survey were released.
"We just chug glasses out of there," said Gushalek.
But the results have changed the way she thinks about reaching for the tap, she said.
"I cannot believe that. That’s scary," said Gushalek.
Now, Brandon officials are saying they’ll take help homeowners fix the problem.
"We’re, I wouldn’t say in violation, but we do certainly exceed the guidelines that have been established in Canada," said Ted Snurre with the City of Brandon.
The cause is believed to be service connections found in homes built before 1950.
"Lead was what they used back in the day, and this is something all cities are dealing with," said Brandon Mayor Shari Decter-Hirst.
Officials with the City of Winnipeg said "most" of the homes in Winnipeg receive tap water that is within national and provincial standards.
As for Brandon's water, provincial officials said the water is still safe to drink and the health impacts are not significant.
However, provincial regulations also stipulate that children and pregnant women should avoid all exposure to lead.
Dr. Susan Roberecki is the medical lead for environmental health in the Manitoba.
She says the best way to limit lead exposure is to have a contractor change your pipe connections.
"It’s not an emergency. We know these things build up over time, so it’s something to consider," said Roberecki.
The quickest way to tell if your home has lead pipes is to check the pipe connected to your water meter.
If it’s grey, it’s likely lead.
The City of Brandon said it will share the cost with residents to fix the lead pipe problem.
Homeowners looking for an immediate fix can bring down lead levels significantly by running cold water for a few minutes before using it.
Lead levels typically fall far below Canadian safety standards after being ran for five minutes.