Over the years, as the Town has inspected and replaced pipes, no lead pipes have been found. The sampling program is required in all municipalities as a precautionary investigation legislated by Alberta Environment and Parks after Health Canada reduced the limit of lead acceptable in residential drinking water from 0.010 mg/L to 0.005 mg/L. Cochrane’s water is considered lead free with 0.00005 mg per litre.
60 Cochrane homes — mostly in older neighbourhoods — will be chosen at random and invited to provide water samples for testing. The 60 homes chosen to participate will receive containers and instructions for collecting a sample, which will be handled with COVID safety measures in place. The residences will be picked at random from different neighbourhoods, focusing on those built prior to 1975.
Cochrane’s water distribution system was built in the 1950s and 60s when copper was the most common material used. Before that, most existing homes were on private wells; when they were connected to Town water infrastructure, copper pipes were used.
Homes built prior to 1975 were more likely to use lead products in their construction. Before 1960, building codes allowed the use of lead for water pipes, as well as plumbing materials such as solder and brass fittings with high lead content. Lead-based solder continued to be used for plumbing until the mid-80s. Lead can leach into drinking water from lead service lines, tin lead solder and brass fittings containing lead. Lead-containing materials were more commonly used in the past, and consequently occur more frequently in older homes. The sampling program should detect lead contamination if any of these materials were used.
Cochrane’s sampling program starts in May and is expected to wrap up by September. More information is available on cochrane.ca/WaterTesting.
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