The City of Portage la Prairie is expanding its current water sampling program for lead testing to meet new Provincial regulatory requirements for public water systems.

The Province of Manitoba’s Office of Drinking Water, working closely with Public Health, is requiring cities with a population over 10,000 to conduct lead sampling at residential homes.  The City of Portage la Prairie is required to sample forty (40) residential locations for random daytime lead water sampling and reporting. This is in addition to the City’s current self-administered lead and metals testing and mediation program that has been in place for several years.

Percentage of properties in each area with Lead Services (click to enlarge)

The City is seeking homeowners to volunteer to test the main drinking water tap in their homes. A majority of these samples will need to be obtained from homes built before 1975, and preferably before 1950, as there is a higher potential for those household water connections, service lines and fixtures to contain lead. Elevated lead concentrations at the tap are more likely in older homes. Some newer homes may have lead solder and more rarely plumbing fixtures made with a lead containing alloy, therefore a small percentage of samples can be obtained from newer constructed houses. Homes with confirmed lead services will be prioritized. The City is also interested in sampling from homes that operate home-based daycares. Homes must not have a water softener, or an in-line filtration system connected to the tap where the sample is to be taken.

It is important to note that the amount of lead in natural water sources in Manitoba is very low and not a major contributor to the lead levels in tap water. The current National Drinking Water Guideline and the Provincial standard require lead concentration in potable water to be below 0.005 milligrams per litre. Water from the City’s Water Treatment Plant meets the lead limit guidelines. Lead can enter drinking water as it passes through the pipes connecting water supply to the home and plumbing fixtures through corrosion. Lead levels can increase with the amount of time that the water sits in contact with materials containing lead. To reduce corrosion and the potential for elevated lead levels in drinking water at homes that may have lead services, the City increases the pH in the water as it leaves the treatment plant. This helps to keep the water levels from becoming acidic and thereby reduces corrosivity of the water.

For the homeowners who sign up, water testing kits complete with sample bottles and instructions will be dropped off at participants’ homes at no cost to the homeowner. City staff will pick up the bottles once sampling is completed. Homeowners can conduct the sampling themselves or arrangements can be made for City staff to take the sample. Results of the samples will be shared with the homeowner. Results will also be posted on the City’s website and in the Annual report, however, the homeowner/ occupant’s name and specific addresses will not be made public.

If the City does not receive enough volunteers, homes with suspected lead services will be contacted directly. If you are interested in having your home included in the list of potential sampling locations, please contact the Operations Department at 204-239-8346, by May 31st, 2022. Any additional questions regarding the lead monitoring program can be directed to the Water Treatment Division Manager, Jared Smith at  jared.smith@city-plap.com or 204-239-8373.

Visit the City’s website at https://www.city-plap.com/cityplap/departments/operations/water-sewer/ for more information on lead in drinking water, the City’s mitigation strategy as well as the lead subsidy program.