Williams Lake City Council addressed lead concerns raised by residents this week following a national investigation by media. Black Press Media file photo

Williams Lake City Council addressed lead concerns raised by residents this week following a national investigation by media. Black Press Media file photo

‘Our lead levels are very, very low,’ Williams Lake CAO reassures city councillors

Coun. Scott Nelson said residents have been asking him about lead levels in local water

The level of lead in the city’s drinking water was the topic of conversation at Tuesday evening’s regular council meeting.

“In the media there has been a number of stories related to water and lead in the water,” said Coun. Scott Nelson, referring to stories resulting from a yearlong investigation by more than 120 journalists from nine universities and 10 media organizations, including The Associated Press and the Institute for Investigative Journalism at Concordia University in Montreal, who collected test results that properly measure exposure to lead in 11 cities across Canada.

Read More: Investigation: Lead in some Canadian water worse than Flint

The investigation revealed out of 12,000 tests since 2014, one-third — 33 per cent — exceeded the national safety guideline of five parts per billion; 18 percent exceeded the U.S. limit of 15 ppb.

Canadian officials where levels were found to be high said they were aware that lead pipes can contaminate drinking water and that they were working to replace aging infrastructure.

“I’ve received a number of calls from people just in our community saying ‘we’ve got lead pipes in our community, what’s going on, what’s the concern,’” Nelson said, asking city staff to clarify what the situation is for Williams Lake.

“People are concerned and rightly so.”

CAO Milo MacDonald said he directed staff to examine the city’s water analysis for the past 10 years, directly taking a look at it in the context of the maximum allowable concentration of lead.

“Our lead levels are very, very low. We are one ten thousandth of the Canadian Water Drinking guidelines for lead, so on that issue we’re in good shape,” MacDonald reported.

Nelson was quick to confirm the findings for Williams Lake water.

“So our community is literally lead-free and very safe,” Nelson said.

MacDonald noted the city’s water has a high PH, and lead is more easily soluble in low PH water

“We are protected by the PH in our water which does not solubolize lead or other heavy metals,” he added.

Read More: Infants, young children shouldn’t drink Williams Lake tap water due to levels of manganese: city

Canada is one of the only developed countries in the world that does not have a nationwide drinking water standard. Even countries that struggle to provide safe drinking water have established acceptable lead levels: India’s is 10 ppb, Mexico and Egypt’s are 5 ppb, according to those country’s government websites.

In Prince Rupert journalists found excessively high lead levels in 21 of 25 homes tested. One woman, who lives in subsidized housing for Indigenous people, had water that registered at 15.6 ppb.

With files from The Canadian Press.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Interior Health is reporting the COVID-19 outbreak at Cariboo Memorial Hospital is now up to 13 staff. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
46 more COVID-19 cases linked to Cariboo Chilcotin community cluster: Interior Health

Cariboo Memorial Hospital outbreak now at 13 staff members

Canim Lake Band remains in lockdown. (Martina Dopf photo)
Canim Lake Band grieves loss of second Elder due to COVID-19

Elder, who lived away from home, was ‘matriarch, a fierce protector’, Chief says.

50 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were provided to Williams Lake First Nation elders and members with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems Tuesday, Jan. 26. (Williams Lake First Nation Facebook photo)
UPDATE: Moderna vaccine arrives at Williams Lake First Nation community of Sugar Cane

Vaccination clinics this week at Elizabeth Grouse Gymnasium

Fire prevention burning is planned near the Williams Lake Airport in as shown by this map from the Cariboo Fire Centre. (Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development image)
Wildfire reduction work slated near Williams Lake Airport

While work is underway some trails nearby may be closed, watch for signage

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read