hand holding glass under running tap of water

Lead in water

While lead is a common, natural metal found naturally in the environment, it is NOT found in naturally in drinking water (sourced from the ground/well or surface/lake).

It is found in the air, soil, food, water and in certain consumer products. Before experts knew that ingesting lead could be harmful, it was used in the production of many consumer products as well as the production of water main and service lines.

While lead service lines were largely phased out in the 1950’s, it was not until 1975 that service lines stopped being produced of lead. After that, plumbing materials and fittings such as solder, facets, or valves made of lead continued to be used until 1990.

Selkirk's water source and water main lines do not contain lead

Selkirk’s water continues to be safe to consume and meets or exceeds established guidelines. 

While the City of Selkirk has replaced all water main lines that had once contained lead, some older homes in Selkirk may still have lead service lines (LSL) used for their plumbing systems on their property. 

See below “Do I have a lead service line”. 

Health Canada has updated the national guidelines for lead in drinking water by decreasing the amount of allowable lead in drinking water to 0.005 mg/L or less determined by a water sample taken from the home tap, by a certified professional. 

View National Guidelines Here 

Most homes in Selkirk are not impacted by lead in drinking water.

How to tell if you have lead pipes

Lead water pipes are usually a dull gray colour. You can confirm it’s a lead pipe by gently scratching the surface with a coin. If it’s lead, scratching the pipe will leave a shiny silver metal mark.

Copper water pipes are usually a bronze, bright or dark orange colour and are made of a very hard material. Scratching a copper pipe with a coin will leave a faint bronze coloured mark.

lead copper pipe

Image credit: City of Winnipeg

The only way to test for elevated lead concentrations is at the tap.

The City of Selkirk is offering free water quality testing to citizens who have lead service lines

To determine if your service line is lead or not, please see “do I have a lead service line” above. 

If your line is lead, a water quality test can be booked below.

City staff will conduct a test at tap and send it away for testing. Once the results are available, a letter will be sent to you in the mail. 

All sample results will be provided via a letter mailed to your home. 

If results are elevated, the following will be provided:

  1. A copy of the provincial fact sheet 
  2. Information on purchasing NSF-certified point-of-use treatment devices in your community; and
  3. Information on lead service line replacement, if applicable. 

Homeowner Responsibility

The pipe that connects the home to the shut-off valve at the property line. 

City Responsibility

The pipe that connects the city watermain to the shut-off valve at the property line. 

 

underground utility illustration

Any time the city is replacing a water main, service line or fixing a leak on city-owned pipes, property owners will be given the opportunity to replace their part of the service line at the same time so they can benefit from any potential cost savings.

Licensed contractors in Selkirk 

Bonded and insured to perform water and sewer work. 

Buus Construction
Janssen Underground
Raymond Vauclair Projects
Unger Excavating

 

If elevated levels of lead is detected in your drinking water through water quality testing, the most cost-effective way to reduce lead at the tap is to purchase a pitcher-type filter or point-of-use filter that can be installed on kitchen taps and are NSF-certified to reduce lead to acceptable levels.

Other options include:

  • Distillation units
  • Reverse osmosis units
  • Flushing your plumbing system before consuming any water that has been standing in your pipes for more than six hours, as standing water can absorb metals from the pipes.
    • You can flush your system by running your tap for up to 10 minutes, flushing the toilet, taking a shower or starting a load of laundry.
    • After flushing, fill containers with water and keep them in the fridge for drinking.
  • Use cold water for cooking and drinking, as hot tap water can absorb trace metals from water pipes.
  • Clean faucet aerators to remove any particles and sediment that may have collected in the aerator screen.
  • PIPE REPLACEMENT (if it’s lead) that runs from your home up to the shut-off valve (usually at your property line). This work must be performed by a licensed contractor permitted to do the work.

Licensed contractors in Selkirk 

Bonded and insured to perform water and sewer work. 

Buus Construction
Janssen Underground
Raymond Vauclair Projects
Unger Excavating

Book a water quality test

Water quality requests can be made online via the form below, or by reaching out to Selkirk’s CitizenSupport representatives via the link below. 

 

Additional resources

For more information on the effects of lead on your health, please visit: