Lead Sampling Program

Lead in Drinking Water

What is lead? 
Lead is a soft, bluish-grey metal that has many industrial uses and can be found naturally in the environment. Tap water is generally not the most significant source of exposure to lead, however, drinking water can contribute to a person’s overall lead exposure. Trace amounts can also be found in air, soil, household dust, food, and various consumer products.

Why is lead a health concern?
Exposure to high levels of lead can cause a variety of health and developmental issues. Lead exposure has the greatest impact to infants, young children, and pregnant women. 
How does lead get in drinking water?
Lead is usually found in drinking water as a result of leaching from distribution and plumbing system components. Lead is no longer used in service lines and fittings, so its presence is more likely in the plumbing of older homes and buildings. Lead can enter drinking water when a chemical reaction occurs in plumbing materials that contain lead (built prior to 1990). This process is known as corrosion – the dissolving and wearing away of metal from pipes and fixtures. 

Is there lead in Steinbach's water?
There are no lead structures in the City of Steinbach’s water distribution system. Any lead detected in tap water will be the result of leaching lead plumbing fixtures located in older properties. 
What is the City of Steinbach doing about lead?
In addition to implementing an annual water sampling program in the spring and summer, the City of Steinbach has been very proactive in managing its water supply and testing and monitoring regularly for all contaminants, including lead. Specific to lead:
  • Steinbach’s water distribution system has never had any lead service piping or components
  • Steinbach has a natural ground water source; lead in ground water is minimal; 
  • All water services installations in the city have been completed after lead was prohibited in plumbing components;
  • Fluctuating PH levels in water can influence the rate of leaching of lead; Steinbach’s water PH levels change minimally, and have always stayed within the optimal zone to minimize lead leaching characteristics;
  • The injection of orthophosphate into water can assist with lead leachate by creating a protective barrier on pipe walls. Steinbach adopted corrosion control measures as part of its water treatment process and has been injecting orthophosphate into its water distribution system since 1988. This represents 30 years of protective barrier in the system.

How do I check for lead pipes?
A licensed plumber is the best way to determine if your plumbing has lead in it. They will likely need to enter your home to make a visual inspection of your pipes and plumbing system.
What if I have lead pipes?
Flush your pipes
If it has been a few hours since you have used water, run a tap until the water is very cold, and then let it run for at least one more minute. This will pull fresh water from the watermain into the pipes.
Use cold water for cooking and drinking
Lead in pipes moves more readily into hot water than into cold water. Cold water is less likely to contain lead, even after flushing the pipes.
Don't drink discoloured water
Avoid drinking discoloured water as it may contain temporarily elevated levels of lead or other contaminants.
Purchase a water filter
Filters should be NSF-certified. To be effective, filters and cartridges should be maintained and replaced as per the manufacturer. 
Replace lead plumbing
Be sure to contact a licensed plumber to understand your options and cost.