Lead is a naturally-occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed and can be found in air, soil, dust, food and water. Regina’s water supply from Buffalo Pound and the water in the City’s water mains is safe. Health Canada has set a limit for lead in drinking water as 0.010 mg/L and the lead level in Regina’s drinking water when it enters the distribution system is less than 0.0001 mg/L or 100 times lower than the limit.
Typically, lead in treated drinking water comes from contact with service connections containing lead or lead in the household plumbing systems, such as lead solder or brass plumbing fixtures. Prior to 1960, lead was a common plumbing material in municipalities right across the country. Since it became clear that lead was unsafe to use, we have proactively replaced City-owned lead service connections when major roadway or sewer work is being done in the area. This process helps to save time and money as it reduces the number of times we need to work on that stretch of road.
Identifying Lead Service Connections
It's easy to find out what material your private service connection is made from. You’ll need a magnet and a key or coin.
Step 1: Find Your Water Meter
|Your water meter is most likely located in the basement. It should say cubic metres on the dial.|
Step 2: Find the Pipe
|The pipe should be one inch in diameter or smaller and enter the house from underground a few feet before connecting to the water meter. You will also see a valve on it.|
Step 3: Determine if the Pipe is Plastic
|If the pipe is plastic, it is not made out of lead, but there is still a chance you could have lead fittings or solder in the plumbing in your house.||If the pipe is not plastic, it may be lead.|
Step 4: Scratch the Pipe Using a Key or Coin
|If the colour underneath is orange like a shiny penny it is not lead, but there is still a chance you could have lead fittings or solder in the plumbing in your house.||
If the colour is silver or gray, it may be lead.
Step 5: Was the Pipe Hard to Scratch?
|If the pipe was hard to scratch, it’s not lead. There’s still a chance you could have lead fittings or solder in the plumbing in your house.||If the pipe was soft and easy to scratch, it is probably either lead or galvanized steel.|
Step 6: Does a Magnet Stick to the Pipe?
|If a magnet sticks to the pipe it is probably galvanized steel. There is still a chance you could have lead fittings or solder in the plumbing in your house.||If a magnet does not stick to the pipe it is probably made of lead. Contact a licensed plumber to confirm and consider replacing the service connection.|
Lead Testing Programs
The only effective means to measure lead levels in a home is testing at the tap. The City of Regina has two testing programs to test tap water in your home - the Random Testing Study Program and the In-Home Point of Use Testing.
Random Testing is conducted to assess lead levels in homes built before 1960 and properties found in areas that are known to have lead water service connections.
City staff will test and collect water samples from the house for analysis. They will also determine the internal plumbing material inside the house, where the water service line enters the house and what, if any, water treatments are in the home.
Testing takes about an hour. The bulk of the time is due to a 30-minute stagnation period where no water can run in the house. All program participants will be provided with results for their home. Contact us if you are interested in participating.
In-Home Point of Use Testing allows individual residents to have their water tested for lead. Since you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way of telling whether there is lead in your drinking water.
All building owners within Regina city limits are eligible to participate in free lead testing where:
- The building was constructed prior to 1960 and is in a neighbourhood where other lead lines are present.
- Records indicate that the building is served by a known public lead service line.
- The public lead service line was replaced in the last five years.
- There are incomplete records for the public service line material (i.e. material unknown), the building was constructed prior to 1960 and the building is in a neighbourhood that has public lead service lines present elsewhere within the neighbourhood.
Results are sent from the laboratory directly to the individual homeowner. We also receive the results along with the invoice. The results are not be posted or shared and will only be reported in an aggregated manner that prevents the individual properties that participated from being identified.
To receive testing forms and bottles, first contact us to determine if you are eligible and provide the appropriate documents.
Eligible participants will receive a laboratory requisition form by mail. Complete the form and take the form to the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory (SDCL) to obtain a sample kit. Use the kit to conduct the sampling procedures and complete the sampling form. Return water sample, sample form and laboratory requisition to the SDCL.
Lead Removal Water Filter Program
If our records indicate your building is served by a known lead service connection, water quality testing has been done through a Lead Testing Program and indicated levels about current Health Canada Guidelines, or the City has confirmed your building has a private lead service line, you are eligible to receive a free water filter through our Lead Removal Filter Program. There are two options available to eligible residents - a free tap-mounted filter or a water filter rebate.
Request a free tap-mounted filter unit from the City and have it delivered to your door.
The City is not responsible for the installation and maintenance of the unit or the purchase and installation of replacement filters.
Purchase your own tap-mounted unit, under-the-counter unit, fridge water-dispenser unit or filtered water pitcher and receive a rebate of up to $100 on your utility bill.
The filter must be certified to National Sanitation Foundation’s Standard 53 for lead removal to qualify. There are several kinds of filters available to purchase including:
- pitcher style
- pour-through container left in the fridge
- attachment that is screwed on to the tap
- on-counter unit that typically is plumbed to the tap
- below counter system that usually requires the installation of a separate drinking water tap
Most home stores and super centres have some type of filter system available that conforms to the standard for lead reduction. The price of filters vary based on type and features. The simplest and smallest pitcher-type system may cost anywhere from $20 to $100, while a complicated and extensive below counter system may cost in the range of $1,000.
You can apply for the filter rebate, which is applied as a credit to your utility bill, by filling out and supplying the application form.
Replacing Lead Service Connections
The lead service connection on a customer's property is owned and installed at the expense of the property owner and therefore, the responsibility of the property owner. We strongly advise that you contact a licensed plumber to work on your service line.
Replacing only a part of the lead service connection will not effectively reduce lead concentration.
Property owners may request we replace the City-owned lead service connection, but the private side must be changed first because it's less expensive as we are only disrupting the road and repairing it one time. We replace the City-owned lead service connection as other infrastructure and maintenance work is completed, however, we do not replace them where the private side is made from lead. Locations where the private side is not lead will be scheduled first as this will remove the service connection source of lead and effectively reduce lead in the tap water.
If you are unable to replace the lead water service connection at this time, you may wish to purchase a filter certified to NSF/ANSI-53 for lead removal.
Even after both sides of the lead service connection have been replaced, small particles of lead can remain in your home’s internal plumbing. Frequent flushing of your home’s internal plumbing can speed up the removal of these particles. This flushing process includes:
- Installing a NSF-53 filter.
- Running cold water taps before you consume water - remember to only use cold tap water for drinking or cooking, since hot water increases the leaching of lead and other metals from your plumbing.
- Remove and clean tap screens - after lead water service connection replacements it is recommended this be done more frequently as more lead particles may have broken free during replacement work.
- Drain your hot water heater to remove accumulated sediment.