Forty homes in Hinton will be randomly selected this September to participate in the Town’s water sampling program to test for safe levels of lead.
Town workers with Town IDs will knock on 40 random doors and may require entry to homes anywhere from 8 am to 3 pm until Sept. 30, 2021. If someone isn’t home, they will move onto the next house.
“As the Town’s staff is not aware of any lead service connections, we used the “age of developments/areas” within the Town to allocate sample locations,” stated Carlos Tenias Gil, Hinton’s communications coordinator.
Aside from single-family dwellings, multi-family dwellings, and large dwellings, additional samples will be taken from within the treatment and distribution system for reference, Hardisty Reservoir, the Switzer Booster Station, Thompson Lake Reservoir, and Hillcrest Reservoir and Pumphouse. Raw river water, process water, treated water, and the meter vault have all been sampled already. The Town noted there is no presence of lead entering the Meter vault.
“Typically, drinking water treatment plants produce drinking water which is nearly lead-free. However, lead can leach into drinking water from lead service lines, which carry water from the water main to the building inlet, and from lead solder and brass fittings within a building,” stated Jason Penner, Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) communications advisor via email.
The program is a response to changes in the drinking water guidelines by AEP.
The Government of Alberta began working with municipalities towards implementing Health Canada’s updated Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guideline for lead in drinking water in January 2020. This guideline includes a maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of five parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water, as measured at the customer’s tap. This is down from the previous MAC of 10ppb in the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
Fetuses, infants, and children are most at risk for neurodevelopmental adverse health effects from lead, according to the AEP.
The new guidelines require each community to develop and implement a lead mitigation program. Municipal waterworks systems across Alberta began collecting water samples as of May 2020 to measure lead levels at the tap.The first phase of Hinton’s program is the collection of information and water samples for analysis. The first phase also includes evaluation and follow-up and will run until 2024, followed by a mitigation phase from 2025 onwards.
AEP requires municipalities to develop a records management system, mapping zones based on lead risk, and preparing a sampling plan with priority given to highest risk zones prior to sampling.
The customer communication strategy includes information on health effects and steps customers can take to reduce exposure, outreach to potential sampling locations, sampling, and lead results to the customer. The residential lead sample results will be shared with the customer within 14 days after receipt from the laboratory.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice