Pregnant women, babies and children should not be drinking the water in Wells due to potential lead contamination.
The District of Wells issued a news release Friday, Feb. 12, noting it is working closely with Northern Health to confirm the contamination.
“We honestly expected some of the historical buildings to have some issues, but I did not expect a water main to come up positive as well,” district CAO Donna Forseille said.
Additional testing is should confirm the contamination. In the meantime, Forseille said the district will begin accepting bids from companies to fix the issue on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
“The hope is we can isolate it, but we just don’t know,” she said. “We’ll award something hopefully by the end of the week, and they will do two to three months of investigations.”
Certain populations are at a higher risk of damage from lead contamination.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Northern Health recommends that those at highest risk of harm from exposure to lead in drinking water (pregnant women, infants and children) use alternative sources of drinking water until additional information is available,” the release reads.
The District of Wells will provide potable water while investigations continue. Five-gallon jugs will be available for pickup on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at their offices. Forseille said they’re getting a first shipment of 500 bottles and will order more depending on demand, to be distributed weekly. Those interested should call the district office 250-994-3330.
The release adds running cold water for one to three minutes has been shown in some cases to reduce lead in drinking water.
“The length of time required for flushing depends on water pressure, your internal plumbing, and your pattern of water usage throughout the day – usually 15 seconds to four minutes is appropriate. Your finger is a good judge of when the water is as cold as it is going to get,” a Northern Health fact sheet reads.
A HealthLink BC fact sheet says lead in drinking water fact sheet notes skin does not easily absorb lead from water, but is more dangerous when ingested.
“Lead can harm the intellectual development, behaviour, size and hearing of developing fetuses, infants and young children,” it reads. “The health impact depends on many factors including the amount consumed over time, age, nutrition and underlying health issues.”
Over 200 people live in Wells according to the 2016 census, in 158 dwellings.
For more information on potential lead contamination in water sources visit www.northernhealth.ca/sites/northern_health/files/services/environmental-health/documents/northern-health-bulletin-lead.pdf.
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