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COVID-19 delays new program testing for lead in Canmore's drinking water

While Canmore's drinking water distribution system does not contain lead pipes, homes in the community built before 1960 might. As a result, Epcor and the Town of Canmore hope to launch a new program, once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, to test tap water from residential properties to determine lead levels.

CANMORE – COVID-19 has delayed the launch of a new program to test lead content in Canmore's drinking water. 

Epcor, which manages the Town of Canmore's water and wastewater utilities, hopes to launch the new program to begin testing drinking water in the community for lead content once restrictions are lifted. 

Epcor site manager Dennis Letourneau briefed town council in June on the new program. 

"The Town of Canmore and Epcor have put together a monitoring program that is in accordance with Alberta Environment and Parks guidelines," Letourneau said. "We had hoped to start it by now, but things are delayed temporarily by COVID-19." 

In 2019, Health Canada changed its standards for the maximum acceptable concentration of lead in drinking water from 10 micrograms per litre to five micrograms per litre.

Letourneau said the drinking water in Canmore is safe. There is no measurable levels of lead when it leaves the water treatment plant and there are no lead pipes within the distribution system. 

However, he said homes built before 1960 in the community may still have lead pipes and the new guidelines also make it clear that the water coming from the taps in the community is the new point of compliance for measuring lead concentrations. 

"Whereas in the past that had to be met when you hand the water over from the public system to the private system, now they want to see that new maximum being met right at the end of the private system and out of the taps of residents," Letourneau said. "We know we are handing over that water with no detectable levels of lead, but now we have to be focused on what is coming out of the taps." 

The program created for Canmore will see Epcor test the drinking water in 60 randomly chosen homes in the community. Half of the homes will be ones that were built before 1960, as they are at the highest risk.

The results will be shared with homeowners and the community once they are available. 


Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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