The City of Winnipeg has released results from its 2019 lead water quality testing program. The testing program was launched in August, following the introduction of new national guidelines for lead in drinking water.

Winnipeg’s drinking water is safe, even with the new national guidelines. There is no detectable lead in its source water at Shoal Lake. Orthophosphate, a food-grade phosphoric acid, is added during the treatment process to prevent lead from entering the water through pipe corrosion. However, residents who have lead pipes or lead in other parts of their plumbing may have increased levels of lead in their water if the water sits in the pipes.

In 2019, Winnipeg collected and tested water samples from 268 residences. Four water samples were collected from each home: a random daytime water sample (no flushing), and samples after flushing the plumbing system for one minute, two minutes, and five minutes. The results of the water quality testing program showed:

  • Fifty-four (20 per cent) of the random daytime water samples (no flushing) had lead levels above the national guideline.
  • Thirty-one (12 per cent) of the samples collected after one minute of flushing had lead levels above the national guideline.
  • Five (two per cent) of the samples collected after two minutes of flushing had lead levels above the national guideline.
  • One sample (0.4 per cent) collected after five minutes of flushing had lead levels above the national guideline.

Residents who have lead water pipes are encouraged to flush their plumbing systems before consuming water. Results from the City of Winnipeg’s lead water quality testing program show that flushing pipes lowers lead levels in drinking water.

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Full results from the 2019 lead water quality testing program can be found here.

Residents who are on the waiting list to have their water tested will receive a letter with more information about future rounds of the lead water quality testing program. The next round of testing is expected to begin in spring 2020.

More information on the City of Winnipeg’s lead control programs is available here.

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