Recently, Health Canada has updated their guidelines outlining the new regulations for lead in drinking water. The previous maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 0.010 mg/L has been reduced to 0.005 mg/L. Additionally this new guideline will be measured at the tap rather than in the water distribution system. Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) has recommended that municipalities approach the new regulations in two phases. For more information, refer to “Additional Resources” in the FAQs below. 

The water leaving the water treatment plant is currently 0.0001 mg/L which is 50 times lower than the new MAC. However lead can still leach into the potable water if exposed to lead pipes, lead solder, or brass fittings. The National Plumbing Code allowed for the use of lead service lines and other plumbing materials (solder or brass fittings) until 1960. AEP has suggested that homes built before 1960 are at risk of having lead service lines but the City is currently determining the risk to residents within the City. 

The City of Camrose is actively working on a Lead Management Plan, which will discuss a sampling procedure and other exposure reduction methods. The plan was presented to the Committee of the Whole Council meeting on December 7, 2020 and again at the Committee of the Whole Council meeting on December 21, 2020. The City has identified potential lead service lines (LSL), and is checking piping to confirm LSL locations.  At the same time, the City is conducting random water testing throughout the City, as required by the Province, to determine the extent to which lead at a homeowner’s tap might exist. The results from the lead testing will be provided to the homeowners and tenants within 14 days of receiving the test results.

Later this summer or fall, Administration will be providing another update to City Council to review the results of the lead testing, as well as to review the updated draft Lead Management Plan. Once City Council has adopted the Lead Management Plan, the City will start implementation of the plan, likely in early 2022.  View the Council Calendar for Agendas and Minutes of Council meetings.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is lead?
Lead is a naturally occurring element that is found in small amounts on the earth’s outer layer. Lead has a high resistance to corrosion and is very malleable, for this reason it has historically been used for lead service pipes. This is because during times of war, copper wasn’t a common material for plumbing and therefore, lead was used.
What is a lead service line?
Lead service lines (LSLs) are water service pipes made out of lead that connect the City’s watermain to your home. Since 1960, LSLs haven’t been a common material used for pipes but were prohibited in 1975 by the National Plumbing Code. In 1986, the National Plumbing Code then prohibited the use of lead plumbing materials such as lead solder and brass fittings.
Is our drinking water safe?

The water leaving the City’s water treatment plant are typically 0.0001 mg/L or less. This is 50 times lower than Health Canada’s new maximum acceptance concentration for lead. Camrose meets or exceeds all of the federal and provincial standards.

The City of Camrose does not have any lead pipes within the City’s water main distribution system. However, lead may still be introduced through household plumbing material if they are lead pipes, lead solder, or brass fittings.

How can lead affect my health?

Pregnant women and children under the age of six are more vulnerable to lead. Pregnant woman who have been exposed to lead can expose their baby to lead during pregnancy or through breast feeding. Young children who are exposed to lead can cause adverse effects on neurological development and behavior. It is recommended that pregnant women and young children have no exposure to lead and reduction can be found below.

In adults, prolonged lead exposure can cause increased blood pressure or result in kidney problems. Exposure to lead is only a concern if contaminants are ingested; bathing or showering are not significant sources of lead exposure.

Who is responsible for the lead pipes?
The City is responsible for the service connection pipes from the water main to the property line. The remaining pipe on the property owner’s property, from the property line to the customer’s tap, is the property owner’s responsibility. Lead service pipes and lead plumbing materials such as lead solder and brass fittings were used within homes that were built before 1960.
What is the City doing?

The City has identified potential lead service lines (LSL), and is checking piping to confirm LSL locations.  At the same time, the City is conducting random water testing throughout the City, as required by the Province, to determine the extent to which lead at a homeowner’s tap might exist. Following testing, there will be another update/review with City Council.  Once City Council has adopted the Lead Management Plan, the City will start implementation of the plan.

 

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How to reduce lead exposure?

There are a few measures that you can take if you’re concerned about lead levels within your drinking water.

  1. Run water before consuming. If water hasn’t been used for several hours, flush your pipes by flushing the toilet, washing your hands, letting the water run for five minutes before drinking or cooking with the water from the tap.
  2. Use a Point-of-Use (POU) Device. Using a NSF-053 certified POU device will filter out the lead in the drinking water. Ensure that maintenance directions (changing of the filters) are followed to provide the most effective removal. 
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