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Brandon-Westman chapter presents to city council on lead content in drinking water

The Council of Canadians Brandon-Westman chapter is raising concerns about the lead content in their city’s drinking water.

The Brandon chapter presented to their City Council on December 5.

The minutes from that meeting state, “John Jacobson, member of the Council of Canadians, appeared before City Council with respect to concerns regarding lead contamination of residential drinking water in the  City of Brandon. Mr. Jacobson enquired about  water testing procedure, filter effectiveness, notification of residents, and general questions about the usage of the filter rebate program. His Worship Mayor Chrest referred Mr. Jacobson’s questions to Administration for response.” The minutes also note that that a motion to receive the presentation by Jacobson with respect to the testing of lead content in water was carried.

CBC has reported, “More than three years after provincial regulators flagged high lead concentrations in Brandon’s drinking water, city officials in Manitoba’s second-largest city have yet to change their treatment process to reduce lead exposure for its residents, a CBC I-Team investigation has found. A Brandon resident [Steve Saul] who recently drove through Flint, Michigan — currently in the throes of an unprecedented lead-related health crisis in the U.S. — was inspired to get his own tap water tested through Brandon’s sampling program when he arrived home from his trip.”

The article adds, “According to Health Canada, lead concentrations should not exceed 10 parts per billion for drinking water; above that level consumption can lead to adverse health effects, such as developmental problems in children.” In some homes in Brandon, the lead content is three times higher than the drinking water guidelines. “In 2013, the City of Brandon announced a provincial study showed higher-than-normal lead levels in a random sampling of older homes. The results showed that even after flushing pipes for five minutes, 70 per cent of samples still exceeded lead guidelines.”

And the news article notes, “Unlike Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, which have both been adding corrosion inhibitors called orthophosphates to its water supply to limit lead from seeping into the water for years, Brandon has only begun exploring these lead-mitigation options.”

On December 6, the Westman Journal reported, “The City of Brandon’s engineering services and water resources department is reminding the public that applications from eligible property owners or occupants wishing to take advantage of the 2016 water filter rebate program must be received no later than Thursday, Dec. 15. The rebate process was rolled out in September to assist properties impacted by lead water service connections or tap water which may be above the national drinking water guidelines for lead concentrations. …Preliminary approval has been given by Brandon City Council for the City of Brandon to offer a similar rebate program in 2017.”