LEAD AND YOUR WATER
In Health Canada's Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines, the maximum allowable concentration for lead in drinking water has been changed from 0.010 mg/L to 0.005 mg/L.
Do you have a home that was built in the 1960s or earlier? If so, the Public Service Commission of Bridgewater (PSCB) is offering a free lead monitoring program that may be of interest to those whose properties qualify.
WHY DOES THIS PROGRAM MATTER?
Elevated lead levels in drinking water could pose a hazard to the health of you and your family. The monitoring program introduced by the PSCB will help to identify if your household is at risk.
As a result of Health Canada’s 2019 revision of the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines, all public drinking water supply owners are required to develop and implement an updated lead monitoring program in order to meet local regulatory requirements.
As of last year, drinking water supply owners, such as the PSCB, are required to begin an advanced lead monitoring program that will focus on detecting and addressing water service laterals and properties/buildings that have elevated lead and corrosion levels.
This program is considered critical because of the potential health impact upon residents. Lead levels in drinking water can cause significant health consequences, including affecting brain development in children and high blood pressure and kidney problems in adults.
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WHY MONITOR OLDER HOMES?
Homes built in the 1960s or earlier have a higher risk of being serviced by a lead service lateral or having lead fixtures and fittings.
Drinking water supplied by the Public Service Commission of Bridgewater meets or exceeds all parameters set out in the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines and is continuously monitored.
As water enters properties it is possible for lead to leach into water from lead service laterals, solder, brass fixtures, faucets, and fittings.
This happens through corrosion and aging systems, when metal dissolves or wears away due to a chemical reaction between water and water infrastructure.
KEY AREAS OF BRIDGEWATER
If your property is located in the blue or green areas marked on the map of Bridgewater below (which indicate approximate age of building stock in those areas of town) and the monitoring program is of interest to you, please contact us by e-mailing
Not sure if you own property in an area of interest? Click the street index map below to see a large version of the map to help you identify if your property is located in an area of interest based on the general age of properties.
WHAT WILL TESTING LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
If you participate in the lead monitoring program, we'll need you to help us by collecting samples correctly. Here's how it works:
1 -- Please take samples first thing in the morning and contact PSCB for pick up before 8:30 a.m. Samples need to be taken either Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday only.
2 -- Make sure your water has stagnated for 6 hours (minimum). Do not run the water until you are ready to take the samples.
3 -- Take the samples from the kitchen cold water tap only.
4 -- Prepare for sampling:
(a) Bring bottles to the sample location.
(b) Remove the sediment/aerator screen on the tap, if possible.
(c) Put on the nitrile gloves provided.
5 -- Note the date and time of the sample being taken.
6 -- Remove the tops of the bottles, turn on the cold water tap and start filling the sample bottles. Starting with 1A, followed by 1B, 1C and 1D, respectively.
7 -- Place the tops back on the sample bottles. Place samples in the plastic bag provided and dispose of the gloves. Please store the samples in a regular refrigerator until pick up. Make sure the property questionnaire has been completed, along with the date and time on this sheet.
And that's it!
LEAD AND YOUR HOME -- IF YOU DO HAVE LEAD IN YOUR WATER, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Homeowner’s Guide to Reducing Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water
If you are concerned about lead in drinking water or suspect your plumbing may contain lead. You can take action to limit your exposure to lead in drinking water.
- Flush the COLD water faucet for 5-minutes before drinking or cooking. This is especially important when the water has been standing in the pipes for at least 6-hours. Such as in the morning or after work.
- DO NOT drink or cook with water that comes out of the HOT faucet, this can increase the lead concentration in the water.
- Boiling the water WILL NOT reduce the lead concentration in the water.
- If you are pregnant, breast feeding or have children 6 and under, using an NSF 53 Certified water filter for lead removal can reduce your exposure.
- Remove and clean all aerators on your water faucets periodically. Lead particles and sediment can build up in aerators and increase lead concentrations.
- The only way to completely reduce lead exposure is to remove the source of lead.
Homeowner's Guide to Identifying Private Service Lateral Material
Step 1: Locate the water meter in your home. Typically, this will be in the basement or in a utility closet that contains your hot water tank if you don’t have a basement.
Step 2: Use an object like a butter knife and tap the pipe close to where it enters the house through the wall or floor. There is a distinct sound difference between metal and plastic. If you are unaware of these sound differences compare by tapping the butter knife on something in your home that you know is plastic and metal.
Step 3: If the pipe is metal use a key or coin to scratch the pipe close to where it enters the house through the wall or floor.
- What color is the pipe underneath?
- Metallic and orange like a penny? It is a copper service lateral.
- Metallic and yellow/gold like a loonie? It may be a brass service lateral. Brass is uncommon, but brass can contain lead.
- If the pipe is grey, continue to Step 4.
Step 4: Hold a magnet to your service line.
- Does the magnet stick?
- NO – It is a lead service lateral.
- YES – It is a steel service lateral.
- Remember to wash your hands when you are done.
If you would like Public Service Commission of Bridgewater department staff to do a site visit, please contact us at 902-541-4370 or