Lead in Charlottetown Water

What news to come home to: the CBC is reporting that Charlottetown to warn about lead in water. While the City of Charlottetown appears to be taking some responsibility for the problem, the article closes with what appears, on first blush, to be a shocking abrogation of duty:

But the city says it simply can’t afford to replace all lead pipes. It recommends that if people have concerns, they should take other precautions, such as buying a water filter or running the water for a few minutes first thing in the morning before they drink it.

If the city is running water through its own lead pipes, and if that is posing a health risk, then the city simply must do what’s required. Water is a basic necessity; we all have a right to a clean, healthy source of it.


oliver's picture
oliver on March 28, 2007 - 01:55 Permalink

Ackkk!! Here’s the U.S. EPA FAQ.
That CBC article is useless. At what time of day and for how long did they measure 80X the legal and/or recommended limit? How conservative is that limit? How much lead are people liable to have ingested so far, and how bad is that?

oliver's picture
oliver on March 28, 2007 - 01:57 Permalink

In particular, note the EPA FAQ says

Children at risk of exposure to lead should be tested.

Your doctor or local health center can perform a simple blood test to determine your child

oliver's picture
oliver on March 28, 2007 - 02:07 Permalink

Here’s a recent news release that gives an idea about “acceptable” and actual remediation times in the U.S..

The four-year study (1996-1999) looked at 382 children, ages 6 months to 6 years, who had blood lead levels of 20 micrograms per deciliter or greater. In Wisconsin, these levels trigger an official lead hazard investigation of the children’s homes.

In these cases, the median length of time to eliminate lead exposure in the children’s homes was 465 days. Overall, 18 percent of homes were cleared of lead hazards within six months, while 46 percent took more than 18 months.

However, there were some signs of improvement during the study. It took a median of 828 days to clear lead hazards from homes in 1996, compared to 347 days in 1999.”

Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 28, 2007 - 12:25 Permalink

I’m not sure it’s fair to say the city is running water through its own lead pipes. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think the city uses any lead pipes.

The main source of lead in water is the pipes which connect to the water main. Those pipes have always been the responsibility of the homeowner (landlord).

And, perhaps there’s a chemist out there who can say whether or not the added chlorine and fluorine in the water makes it more able to disolve lead (leading to higher lead levels).

bon's picture
bon on March 28, 2007 - 15:38 Permalink

okay…good to know. damned if you go with bottled water for the bebe, and apparently damned if you don’t. how does one go about getting one’s pipes tested? anybody?

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on March 28, 2007 - 15:40 Permalink

Kevin is partially correct. There are two portions of pipe running from the main to the home. The portion from the main to the “service box” (located at the property line) is the responsibility of the city. The portion from the property line to the home is the responsibility of the home owner. If a home has a lead service line, there is also the possibility of lead pipes within the house, or lead solder used to connect copper pipes.

If you have concerns hire a plumber to determine if your home contains lead solder, lead pipes or pipe fittings that contain lead. The plumber can also determine if a home has a lead service line connecting a home to the city’s water main. When purchasing a home buyers should have the plumbing checked for lead fixtures. I don’t believe disclosure by the seller is mandatory (should be if it isn’t).

The city has an annual replacement program, which includes lead service pipes. Eventually this will replace lead service connections (from the main to the property lines). If you discover your service line is lead and you plan to replace it, I recommend contacting the city to request replacement of the city’s portion.

Derek Martin's picture
Derek Martin on March 28, 2007 - 16:11 Permalink

Whether it’s true or not, I read that some of the pipe to the house was the homeowner’s responsibility and some the City’s — the City was going to replace their part for the family in question because the family had replaced theirs. I imagine it can’t be good for the water conservation we’re supposed to be doing if every pre-1950 house is flushing their pipes every day.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 28, 2007 - 21:41 Permalink

The City of Charlottetown has a Water Services page on their website. You would think this would be a good place for them to immediately get some “so, you think you may have lead in your water” information online right away.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 28, 2007 - 21:43 Permalink

The Province of PEI has a Lead in Water information page.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 28, 2007 - 21:46 Permalink

The Province also has a Getting Your Water Tested page. It says, in part:

When a consumer has concerns regarding water supplied by a municipal water system, they should contact the utility providing the water. Depending on the nature of the inquiry, they may be able to provide you with the necessary water quality results, or arrange to collect a sample from your residence at no charge to yourself.