Water from drinking fountains and faucets in city buildings is safe to drink, says city General Manager of Public Works and Engineering Dave Dyer. However, in some instances, users are advised to briefly run faucets prior to consumption according to a recent City of Prince George investigation into the lead concentrations in water at city-owned civic facilities.
During the investigation, city staff performed drinking water sampling at 24 civic facilities throughout the city to conduct tests of both static water and of water sampled after flowing for 30 seconds. The results were that all of the water samples taken from faucets after flowing contained lead concentrations below the maximum acceptable concentration as set out by the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines.
The investigation determined that lead concentration in water at all drinking fountains in civic facilities is below the acceptable maximum in both the static and flowing water tests. Lead concentrations were also below the acceptable maximum at water from sink faucets for both static and flowing water samples at 11 of the 24 civic facilities tested.
The static water tests (which tested the first 250 millilitres of water from sink faucets after a dormant period of at least six hours) in 13 civic facilities, delivered water that exceeded the maximum acceptable concentration for lead.
“Although lead piping was banned in Canada in the 1970s and lead in solder in 1986, some plumbing fittings, both in new and older buildings, may still contain lead that can be absorbed into immobile or stationary water,” said Dyer in a press release. “In plumbing that is used relatively infrequently, this may cause a buildup of lead in the immobile water. This is why it is recommended that people run the water for drinking purposes for about 30 seconds as suggested in the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines for lead.”
The results from the city testing indicate that sink faucets used less frequently may have elevated concentrations of lead as infrequent use means fewer opportunities for the system to be flushed. Also, that there are some brass plumbing fixture products installed in recent years that contain lead even though the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has adopted a low lead requirement for potable water plumbing products.
Following a recent study investigating lead concentrations in drinking water at schools in School District 57, city staff proceeded with a similar investigation for city-owned civic facilities.
“Essentially, the plumbing in city buildings delivers water that is safe to drink,” said Dyer. “To further ensure that lead concentrations are consistently below the Canadian Drinking Water Guidelines, staff is implementing an action plan that includes replacement of plumbing fixtures that do not meet the CSA low lead requirement for potable water plumbing products.”
The lead investigation report will be part of a report on the agenda for the December 4 meeting of Prince George city council. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall and a live stream can be viewed on the City website.