REGINA -- An extensive, year-long study on lead in municipal drinking water found that roughly one-third of water samples tested across Canada exceed the acceptable levels set by Health Canada.

If you have concerns about your drinking water, what can you do? Here are some answers about lead contamination in drinking water and possible steps to protect you and your family’s health.

How does lead get into our drinking water?

According to Health Canada, lead is not typically found in natural water sources or treatment plans in Canada. In most cases, lead seeps into the municipal water supply through aging infrastructure. Lead pipes, old wells, plumbing parts, even fittings, soldering, faucets and valves can all leach into drinking water. The water’s acidity or alkalinity, temperature, types and amounts of minerals in it, and how long it’s been standing in the pipes are all possible factors that can affect the amount of lead it contains.

Identifying lead service connections

A service connection is the section of pipe that connects the water main on your street to the piping inside of your home. A lead service connection describes when the service connection pipe is made out of lead, and can contaminate the water coming into your home.

The following steps are outlined on the City of Regina’s website.

Step 1: Find your water meter.

  • Your water meter should say cubic metres on the dial

Step 2: Find the pipe

  • The pipe should be roughly one inch in diameter or smaller. It will enter the house from the ground and will have a valve on it.

Step 3: Determine if the pipe is plastic

  • If the pipe is plastic, there’s still a chance that the fittings or solder in the plumbing of your home are lead. If the pipe is not plastic, it could be lead.

Step 4: Scratch the pipe with a key or coin

  • If the material underneath is copper in colour, it is not lead. If the material is silver or grey it may be lead.

Step 5: Was the pipe hard to scatch

  • If the pipe was hard to scratch it is probably not lead. If it the pipe was easy to scratch it is likely lead or galvanized steel.

Step 6: Does a magnet stick to the pipe?

  • If a magnet sticks to the pipe it is likely galvanized steel. If a magnet does not stick it is probably lead. Contact a plumber to confirm and consider having your service connection replaced.

Lead testing programs

The City of Regina offers two different tests to measure lead in tap water; random testing study program and the in-home point of use testing.

Random testing study program

These tests are conducted to assess lead levels in water going into homes built before 1960, and homes in areas known to have lead pipes.

Staff collect and test water samples from your home and determine the material of the interior plumbing. Homeowners will be provided results. To contact the city about participating click here.

In-home point of use testing

All building owners within Regina are eligible to participate in free lead testing if the building was constructed before 1960 or is in a neighbourhood with lead pipes.

To find out if you’re eligible to receive testing forms and bottles, contact the City of Regina here.

Free tap-mounted filter or filter water pitcher

You can request a water filter from the City and have it delivered to your door. The City is not responsible for installation or purchase of replacement filters.

Water filter rebate

According to the City of Regina website, you can purchase a tap-mounted unit, under the counter unit, fridge water-dispenser or filtered water pitcher and receive a rebate up to $100 on your water bill.

Replacing lead service connections

Lead service connections are replaced at the expense of the property owner.

With files from Writer Solarina Ho.