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Lead levels comparable to Flint, Mich. found in Regina drinking water
REGINA -- A new study has found that some Canadian cities, including Regina and Moose Jaw, have levels of lead in their drinking water comparable to Flint, Michigan, which has become synonymous with contaminated H2O.
The investigation, conducted by more than 120 journalists, including the University of Regina’s School of Journalism, tested water from hundreds of homes and reviewed thousands of previously undisclosed results.
About one-third of tests exceeded the Canadian guidelines of five parts per billion. Some of the highest levels were recorded in Saskatchewan.
In Canada, there is no national mandate to test drinking water and agencies that conduct tests have no obligation to inform residents.
Provinces set their own rules for water testing and lead pipe replacements.
Prolonged exposure to high amounts of lead over months or years can result in lead poisoning, which can cause serious health effects, particularly among young children.
In a news conference, the City of Regina said that the investigation is a good step to motivate homeowners to take care of their households.
“City water is safe and clean, water in the mains is safe and clean,” Pat Wilson with the City of Regina said. “When it goes through lead lines it gets contaminated.”
The city only tests for lead in areas with a city lead service connection.
When asked how many people are impacted the city did not have specific numbers, but said residents are encouraged to ask for a filter to protect their home from water coming through lead pipes.
The city predicts that by the end of the year it will have replaced 160 lead pipes in Regina. It says the process of replacing lead pipes will take 20 to 25 years. The City of Regina is investigating “other elements” to help accelerate the program, but did not expand on what those elements would be.
Wilson said the city is looking into a way to make the lead testing results public, but for now residents can call and get a test for theirs home if they have a city or private side lead service connection. She said residents are all encouraged to have a test done, as results differ between neighbouring households.
She said to keep in mind when comparing Regina to other places with lead issues, that the problem is nuanced by a number of variables.
“The situation in flint is different; they have a far higher percentage of lines that are lead,” Wilson said. “Ninety-five per cent of Regina lines are lead free.”
The City of Regina has received “around 50 calls” from concerned residents regarding the allegations about lead contamination.
With files from CTVNews.ca.