Water customers in Wolfville shouldn't be concerned, town official says
Acadia University, Wolfville
By Wendy Elliott
Water quality issues at Acadia University do not impact off-campus residents of Wolfville, the town says.
University spokesman Scott Roberts confirmed this week students, faculty and staff have been told not to drink the water in several buildings due to lead contamination.
The town’s public works director Kevin Kerr says the lead problem identified on campus is not originating at the town source.
“As part of our approval to operate the water utility, we sample quarterly for lead among other things,” he said Sept. 11. “We sample at the source (wells) and a representative site in the distribution system (town hall).
“Our lead levels have consistently been below the maximum acceptable level identified by Health Canada's Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. Based on our test results we consider the potable water provided to be safe,” Kerr said.
Roberts said the campus problem first arose in May when 350 taps and fountain were tested by an independent lab and 31 had higher than acceptable levels of lead.
Visitors on campus have observed signs this summer that warned: “water at this location is for hand washing only.”
A QR code on the sign directs people to a website explaining the problem.
Last week, the university received new information.
Roberts said Acadia has found that the problem is not older plumbing because high lead levels have been picked up in relatively new buildings.
The timing of the tests, during the summer when flow rates are very low and water lies for quite some time in many pipes and fixtures, likely contributed to the higher readings, he said.
Lead in drinking water can beinfluenced by both alkalinity levels and water temperature.
The university is following accepted protocols: installing filters on drinking fountains and posting warning signs. Flushing the water lines appear to reduce the lead levels significantly.
During the testing, faucets ran for 10 minutes and a second sample was taken. About 91 per cent of the second tests showed acceptable lead levels. The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water set that level at 10 micrograms per litre.
Roberts said the higher tests were likely from faucets that are rarely used.
Not all buildings on campus have been tested.
Taps are being flushed daily in residence buildings and in food preparation areas in Wheelock Dining Hall, he said.
Meanwhile the cause of the problem has not been determined. Roberts said faculty members with high levels of knowledge have been volunteering their assistance and Acadia has set up a committee to examine the problem.