Winnipeg, MB — Drinking water in schools across Manitoba will soon be tested for lead under a new grant program. The provincial government’s Lead in Drinking Water grant will fund the cost of testing drinking water taps for lead and for related mitigation activities, which can include filtering the water or eliminating the source of the lead.
Through the program, the participating facilities will have the following activities covered:
- Pre- and post-mitigation water sample testing by an accredited lab.
- Replacing water fountains or taps used for drinking water.
- Installing filtered bottle filling stations.
- Replacing plumbing to water fountains or taps.
- Fixing walls opened to remove plumbing.
- Lead service line replacement.
In 2019, Health Canada released a new national guideline for lead in drinking water. The guideline lowered the allowable lead level in drinking water and recommended testing drinking water at school taps and water fountains. Manitoba adopted the guideline in 2020.
To date, the province reports that over 80 per cent of public schools have tested drinking water for lead. Out of those, 79 per cent were below the lead standard or had completed mitigation efforts if their results were elevated.
Schools with results above the guideline will be provided with information on the steps needed to protect students. Testing has also begun for independent schools and child-care centres. These facilities will also have access to the program.
Schools and child-care centres that meet the national guideline for lead in drinking water will be recognized with a “certified lead tested” sticker.