With the concerns that have been expressed about Flint, Michigan’s water system, The City of Charlottetown Water and Sewer Utility wishes to reassure residents that a number of precautions have been taken to ensure similar issues don’t take place in Charlottetown.
Councillor Edward Rice, Chair of the City’s Water and Sewer Utility Committee, said lead service piping was used throughout North America, so it isn’t unusual for municipalities to be dealing with it.
"Fortunately, in Charlottetown, we’ve been managing and replacing the original lead servicing pipes for a number of years already so we have been able to avoid major problems," said Councillor Rice.
The City has made progress in its water system replacement program since it began in 2001, which includes lead service pipe replacement. There are approximately 10,000 service pipe connections from the City’s watermains to customer properties and less than 20 percent of those are the original lead servicing pipes.
The lead servicing only remains in some of the downtown "old Charlottetown" system – infrastructure that was built before 1952. It’s being removed from the distribution system as watermains are replaced, leaks are detected and corrected, new building construction takes place or infrastructure renewal occurs.
Craig Walker, Manager of the City’s Water and Sewer Utility Department, said the city doesn’t see a lot of corrosion on the interior of its water lines despite its aging infrastructure. One reason for that is the City’s water is somewhat neutral in ph and is considered to be hard water, which establishes the conditions that resists the corrosion other municipalities in North America are experiencing.
"We have hard water in Charlottetown, which actually helps because it forms a mineral build up, serving as a bit of a barrier or lining in our pipes. This inhibits corrosion and cuts down on potential leaching from the pipes," Walker said. "And, as an added precaution, the City monitors water quality and conducts tests regularly to ensure we’re not missing anything."
While Charlottetown’s drinking water exceeds Health Canada's standards, residents in older homes can reduce
the amount of lead they might consume even further by following a few simple practices such as flushing standing water in the mornings and cooking with cold water.
Property owners can also update the piping for their own property. Those who have confirmed their service pipe is lead can make arrangements with a contractor or plumber to replace the service pipe between the property line and the building serviced.
"There is a lot of rehabilitation that needs to happen to bring all of our water systems up to date, beyond just replacing the remaining lead service piping," Councillor Rice said. "Our infrastructure is old and we’re going to continue to see watermain breaks and other issues until our aging infrastructure is replaced, something that is going to have to become our primary focus once the sewer separation and wellfield projects are complete."
For more information and tips on reducing lead intake, visit: www.charlottetown.ca/waterutility.php (Direct URL: www.charlottetown.ca/pdfs/minimize_your_intake_of_lead.pdf ).
City of Charlottetown