Lead Water Services Information
1. Why is the issue of lead levels in tap water being discussed in Brandon?
Preliminary results from a Province of Manitoba study on lead concentrations in drinking water were shared with Brandon in late January of 2013 and indicate that, in some older Brandon homes where lead water service connections are present, lead concentration levels have been found to be in excess of current national drinking water guidelines, which is currently 0.01 milligrams per litre. While results are preliminary, the City of Brandon would like to get a better understanding of how many homes in Brandon may have lead service connections and want to determine if lead concentration levels in those areas are in excess of national drinking water guidelines. It is important to note that Brandon’s drinking water supply leaving the City’s water treatment system continues to be safe and meets the provincial standards for lead concentrations.
2. How do I know if my home could have lead service connections?
Homes built before 1950 are most the likely to have a lead service connection. You may wish to visit the City of Brandon’s Tax and Assessment Map to help determine the age of your home here.
The City of Brandon estimates that there are approximately 3,600 homes within the City of Brandon built prior to 1950 that may still have lead service connections remaining on the public right-of-way, which stretches from the water main to the property line. However, the City does not have access to information on how many homes built prior to 1950 may still have lead service connections from their property line running into the residence. One way to determine if you have a lead service running from your property line into your home may first wish to check their water intake valve, which should be exposed at the point where their water service connects to their water meter. If the service line is greyish-silver in colour (as opposed to copper-coloured), it most likely is a lead service.
To further aid the public in determining whether they may have lead service connections, either on the public right-of-way or from their property line to their residence, a map illustrating the City of Brandon’s pre-1950 water main connections can be viewed here.
3. How do I know if my home’s tap water could have lead concentrations higher than the national guideline?
The City of Brandon urges individuals that the only definitive way to determine potential elevated lead levels in drinking water is to undertake lead testing by a certified lab.
In response to the preliminary results of the Province of Manitoba’s study, the City of Brandon is urging anyone who might be concerned about lead levels in their drinking water to take advantage of a volunteer sample testing program being administered by the City of Brandon in partnership with ALS Environmental Labs of Winnipeg.
4. How do I test my tap water for lead concentration levels?
Any resident of the City of Brandon who is concerned or curious about lead concentrations in their tap water can participate in Brandon’s volunteer sample testing program.
Sample bottles can be picked up from the Engineering Department’s office on the 2nd floor of Brandon City Hall, 410-9th Street. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will stay open during the lunch hour for the duration of the program.
Residents will be required to take the bottle home and fill it with a water sample from their tap after 2 minutes of flushing the water line.
Once collected, the samples should be brought back to the Engineering Department office at City Hall. The City will ship the samples to ALS Environmental Labs for testing. When test results come in, the City will send them to the homeowner.
For more information on how to voluntarily have your drinking water tested for lead concentrations, individuals can call the City of Brandon’s Engineering Department at 204-729-2477.
5. What is the cost of this lead concentration test?
For people who live in areas most thought to have lead service connections (as per the City of Brandon’s Water Main Map as mentioned above) , the cost will be a low fee of $20. All other Brandon residents who don’t have lead service connections, but who are still curious or concerned about lead concentration levels in their water, can still pick up sample bottles and go through the same process, but will have to pay $45 for their test. Payment methods accepted at the City of Brandon’s Treasury Department include cash, cheque or debit.
The City of Brandon is very pleased to be able to partner with ALS Environmental Labs, which has dropped the cost of a lead test for City of Brandon residents. This is a much appreciated discount.
6. How long will it take to get my results?
Once returned to City Hall, water samples will be shipped into Winnipeg daily and should take 7 business days to be completed.
Verified results from ALS Environmental Labs will then be sent back to the City of Brandon and forwarded on the homeowner.
7. What should I do if my test results come back showing elevated lead concentrations?
The City of Brandon will work with residents if it is determined their tap water has elevated lead levels.
Individuals concerned about the potential presence of lead in their water may wish to purchase a point-of-use filtration system, which attaches directly to the tap and removes lead from the water supply. The treatment device should be certified to meet the NSF International (NSF)/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for removal of lead. Such systems are available locally at select home improvement stores.
Though the City of Brandon does not endorse any specific manufacturer, one specific product in question manufactured by Brita is explained in the following link.
Individuals who live in homes with lead service connections can also lower lead levels that may exist in tap water by avoiding drinking any water that has been sitting in the plumbing system for a long time, such as overnight or during the workday. If this is the course of action taken, it is suggested that homeowners flush the toilet, take a shower or start a load of laundry first thing in the morning or after work to clear the water from the service connection. Then run the tap until the water turns cold to clear the water that has been sitting in the plumbing. Then fill a container and keep it in the fridge for drinking or cooking.
Also, the City of Brandon currently offers a program through which it will provide financial assistance to property owners in conjunction with the replacement of lead water services on the public right-of-way. (from the water main to the property line). It should be noted that this program does not cost-share the replacement of lead services from the property line into a private residence. For more information about the program, call the City of Brandon’s Engineering Department at (204) 729-2477.
8. Where can I find more information about the health impacts of lead?
Manitoba Health has provided the City of Brandon with a comprehensive Environmental Health Fact Sheet on lead, which can be viewed here.
9. Where can I find more information about the Province of Manitoba’s Pilot Project Study on lead levels in tap water?
A fact-sheet has been compiled by the Province of Manitoba on its Pilot Project Study on lead levels in tap water, which included testing in the communities of Brandon, Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie and Steinbach. It can be viewed here.
It should be noted that the information is of a wider scope and relates to the pilot project study as a whole, not just Brandon’s preliminary results.