FORT FRANCES—As a follow-up to testing done in May, the Ministry of Environment is requiring the Town of Fort Frances to again test residential properties for lead.
Now Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown is looking for 40 individual properties to volunteer for testing if they’re located between
Central Avenue east to Colonization Road East, from Sixth Street south to the river, and from Central Avenue west to McIrvine Road, from the CN tracks south to the river.
“We did testing back in May but since then, the ministry put out a regulation [Regulation 170] we have to follow,” Brown noted. “We actually have to go and do two periods of testing.
“The first period is Dec. 15, 2007-April 15, 2008. The second is June 15-Oct. 15, 2008.
“We have to test 40 houses and four non-residential places,” Brown added. “We’ve already selected the arena, the old public library, Robert Moore School, and I haven’t talked to the hospital yet, but there’s an older section of the hospital we want to do.”
Brown said consenting locations will be tested for lead, alkalinity, and pH levels.
“How it works is we’ll go into their house and run their tap for five minutes—most likely the kitchen tap. We’ll let it sit for 30, no more than 35, minutes,” he explained.
“We’ve got to take three one-litre samples. One will be sent to the lab and be tested for lead. Another will be tested for alkalinity, and we do a field test for pH.
“But first we need the resident’s consent. We need them to say, ‘I think I’ve got lead service and I want you to test my pipes for lead,’” continued Brown.
“The benefit to the homeowner is they’ll know the results. They have to be given the results from the test.”
Brown stressed the testing will not be inconvenient for participating residents.
Only two sets of samples will be taken at each residence (one between Dec. 15, 2007-April 15, 2008, and a second between June 15-Oct. 15, 2008) and each of these only will take a half-hour or so to obtain.
Brown said the areas of town being tested reflect where it is believed the concentration of lead services are.
“The other sections of town are newer, so they have more copper and you don’t need to test,” he noted. “It’s only where we suspect lead solder and lead services.”
Based on the results of the two testing periods, the town may be able to reduce the number of properties tested, and the frequency of testing, in the future.
This would be good news, especially since the town—and not the province mandating the testing—has to pay for it.
“It takes manpower to go out and sample. Certified operators have to sample. I have five working for the town, and it takes about 40 minutes for each sample.
“If we wanted to do all 40 in one day, we couldn’t do it. So, what we’re going to do is break it down into a three-day stretch,” noted Brown.
“It’s costing the town money to do this sampling, and the ministry’s not giving us money to meet this regulation. The users of the system are going to have to pay for this,” he warned.
“We have operators that are doing sampling now. This is just more of a standard to follow.”
Brown said the testing is no cause for alarm, it’s just a matter of following provincial regulations. In fact, the testing done in May showed that of the 20 properties tested, all had lead levels far below the maximum safe concentration of 10 micrograms per litre of water.
Only three showed lead content at all, with measurements of 1.7, 1.3, and 1.3 micrograms per litre.
“We’re in good shape. It’s just something we have to do,” Brown remarked. “It’s just like testing for bacti every week to make sure the water’s safe to drink.”
Anyone interested in participating in this survey, or requiring more information, should call 274-9893. If there’s no answer, leave your name, number, and telephone number.
(Fort Frances Times)