06/07/2007

TORONTO, June 7, 2007 – Doug Reycraft, AMO President, welcomed Environment Minister Laurel Broten’s announcement of practical new water testing and treatment measures to reduce lead leaching in water pipes in older homes throughout Ontario.
“Municipalities are ready to take necessary steps to protect human health and to better understand the scope of the problem,” said Reycraft.  “AMO’s advice to the government was that this is a complex problem that requires a considered and balanced approach, focused on safeguarding the health of residents in our communities.”

The actions are intended to reduce the potential levels of lead intake for pregnant women and children under the age of six.  Adults can tolerate higher exposures than children.

The program announced today was in direct response to sampling that showed 47 of 1,000 household water tests taken in a total of 36 municipalities had elevated lead levels.

Ontario’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. George Pasut, describes the risks as “minimal,” and Ontario’s Chief Drinking Water Inspector, Jim Smith, emphasized that “tap water in this province is among the safest in the world.”  

Under the changes:

  • Municipalities will regularly sample for lead, notify home and facility owners of the results from their taps and take corrective action in systems with elevated lead levels.
  • The Province will provide expert advice to municipalities to adjust water chemistry in municipal systems to pick up less lead.
  • The Province will encourage municipalities to conduct public education campaigns, such as inserts in water bill mailings.
  • The Province will provide best practices for municipalities to help make lead line replacement more affordable for homeowners, such as on-bill financing
The testing and measures announced reflect advice given to the government by the Ontario Drinking Water Advisory Council (ODWAC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements to deal with the same issue in areas across the U.S.  

The use of lead pipes in homes was phased out in 1952 and the use of lead solder on joints was phased out in 1990.

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 445 municipal governments.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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