City of Melfort reassures safety of drinking water

MELFORT — The City of Melfort is reassuring the public that an estimated less than one per cent of the 2,500 service connections in the city are at risk of containing lead.

This comes after a study was conducted by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media groups tested water from hundreds of homes and reviewed thousands of undisclosed results.

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While Melfort was not tested, Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw are among a group of Canadian cities where high levels of lead were found in tap water.

“A recent report identifying the presence of lead in drinking water in a number of the larger cities in Canada has been highlighted on national media,” said Brent Lutz, director development, planning and community relations in a press release. “The cities included in the national report preexist the incorporation of Melfort and had existing infrastructure long before Melfort offered water services to properties.”

Lutz said that the city’s distribution system has approximately 55 per cent of PVC pipes and another 45 per cent are metallic pipes that do not contain lead.

“The use of lead pipes within the City of Melfort is limited to service connections predating the mid 50’s, when the use of lead pipes was discontinued. The practice of the City of Melfort has been to remove lead service connections when they are found as a result of water line repairs and replacement or new construction.”

An engineering report prepared for the City of Melfort by Catterall and Wright in 2016 estimated that less than 1 per cent of the 2,500 service connections in the city were risk of containing lead.

“The few lead services that remain in Melfort are concentrated in the downtown core in older commercial buildings,” Lutz said. “Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the odd older residential home may have a lead service line.”

He said that when a lead service is found, it is the city’s policy to replace the line from the main water line to the curb stop or property line, at which point the resident or business owner is advised to change their line as well.

“The current policy, to replace lines when they are encountered, has been reactive. In light of the recent concerns raised in the media, city administration is preparing a more proactive approach that will seek out the few remaining connections and replace them.”

Property owners can confirm their service connection is safe by inspecting the pipe connected to the inlet of their water meter. If it is either copper or pvc, the service does not contain lead. Homes constructed after the mid 50’s are unlikely to have a lead service.

The city is asking that if a resident suspects they have a lead service, they should contact city hall by calling 306-752-5911 or emailing city@melfort.ca .

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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