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The Ministry of the Environment has responded to the furore over lead in drinking water with new regulations, and a proposal for more. Most of the resulting financial burden will, as usual, fall on the municipalities.

• O.Reg. 243/07 (Schools, Private Schools and Day Nurseries – EBR posting 010-0734), is already in effect. it

– requires all schools and day nurseries built before 1990 to flush their plumbing daily;
– continues requirements for schools and day nurseries built after 1989 to flush weekly; and
– requires all schools, and day nurseries built before 1990, to test for lead in water from taps on an annual basis.

• MOE also proposes to:

– Develop provincial and municipal public education campaigns that target vulnerable communities and older neighbourhoods most likely to have lead lines and/or lead in plumbing home fixtures.
– encourage municipalities to offer on-bill financing for lead plumbing replacement, i.e. to lend residents the money for the upgrades, and recover it through their water bills.

• Proposed new regulations would require water system operators, usually municipalities, to:

  1. Perform community-wide lead testing at the tap, and report the results to the public;
  2. Take corrosion control measures, i.e. adjust pH and alkalinity in treated water, and
  3. Include the financial costs of lead asset replacement in their Financial Plans (refer to EBR update of posting 010-0490).

As we live in a century-old house, I guess it’s time to get our water tested, and to remember to change our Brita filter. But it would be unfortunate if this lead scare resulted in yet more people drinking unregulated bottled water, which has huge adverse environment effects of its own.

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