Elevated arsenic levels found in Leduc, Parkland and Sturgeon Counties
Province is asking residents who have private wells to get water tested
Alberta Health Services wants residents in Leduc, Parkland and Sturgeon Counties to get their private water wells tested after higher-than-acceptable levels of arsenic and manganese were found during routine monitoring.
Some private wells on properties south of Township Road 544 and north of Township Road 502, between Range Roads 39 and 250, have shown elevated levels of the two elements.
In some cases, arsenic levels were found to be twice as high as recommended provincial guidelines for drinking water – and manganese levels were up to 50 times the recommended level.
Elevated arsenic, manganese levels measured
Acceptable arsenic levels: 0.01 mg/litre
Measured arsenic levels: 0.02 mg/litre
Acceptable manganese levels: 0.05 mg/litre
Measured manganese levels:0.5-0.9 mg/litre
(Source: Dr. Chris Sikora, AHS)
The elevated levels were discovered during routine monitoring by Alberta Health Services.
Despite the alarming-sounding numbers, Dr. Chris Sikora with AHS says residents do not need to be scared.
"The levels that we're seeing, we don't have immediate cause for concern. The levels that we're seeing might have a cause for an individual who drank water over the 75-year lifetime."
“That being said, it’s best to protect your own health."
AHS recommends that private well-users in the area send in water samples for one-time free testing by the province.
Once elevated levels are detected, filtration mechanisms can be added to help reduce the levels.
Water would taste, look different
Sikora said both arsenic and manganese are naturally occurring elements.
“This naturally-occurring arsenic … has been seen in numerous other watersheds and basins [across Alberta].”
Sikora said the heightened levels of arsenic and manganese would taste and look different from normal drinking water.
“The water is actually discoloured and will stain clothes if used in a washing machine, so I’m quite confident that people wouldn’t be using that water for consumption purposes.”
Those who live in the area but get their water from regional or municipal water services, such as EPCOR, will not be affected.
The province will be mailing out additional information about water safety to those living in the affected area.