You can now view the specific locations of all Regina lead service connections online

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You can now view the specific locations of all Regina lead service connections online
WATCH: The addresses of all lead service connections owned by the City of Regina are now online thanks to one woman living in the Cathedral neighbourhood – Aug 17, 2021

Thanks to a Cathedral resident’s Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the addresses of nearly 3300 lead service connections (LSCs) in Regina have been posted online.

“I put in the FOI request in the hopes that it would draw public attention to the issue and put pressure on the city to get the lead out ASAP,” said Florence Stratton, who hopes the new list will lead to public pressure on the City of Regina to fast-track its connection replacement program.

“Think about what is happening to the children, and it also effects adult’s health there’s a possible cancer connection, kidney dysfunction, and so on this should not be happening,” she said.

Health Canada describes lead as a possible carcinogenic and points out links between high blood lead levels and increased blood pressure and renal dysfunction in adults.

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But Stratton said she’s most concerned about the effect lead is believed to have on children.

“If a child is born today, in 15 years they’ll be 15, and their IQ will have been affected. That is terrible! I don’t know how we can live with ourselves and say ‘oh 15 years is fine because otherwise it would cost too much or be too inconvenient,'” she said, referencing the City of Regina’s current plan to replace all LSCs within 15 years.

According to Health Canada, “the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) for total lead in drinking water is 0.005 mg/L”, or five parts per billion.

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In 2019, a Global News investigation found that in Regina’s homes with lead service lines, the fourth litre out of the tap in the morning — after just a minute of water use — averaged 26 ppb.

That year, the city of Regina committed to fast-tracking the replacement of all LSCs in Regina, a program that at the time wasn’t scheduled to reach completion until 2050.

This past May, Regina city council reviewed an administration report detailing options to revamp its LSC replacement program. Presented with 30, 15, 10 and five year timelines, council opted to plan for replacing all LSCs by 2036.

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That plan is far from satisfactory for Stratton.

“The city needs to care, we all need to care about each other in this city. Cathedral is the most affected with 21 per cent of the city connections being lead. But there’s North Central, there’s Old Lakeview, there’s Heritage – they all need to be taken out in a timely fashion, which is not 15 years. That’s criminal!” she said.

Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens, though, said there is potential for the timeline to be revisited.

“I wasn’t happy with the 15 years but it was certainly better than the status quo. So I did support it,” Stevens said.

“But not surprisingly the four councillors who represent communities that actually had these lead service connections wanted to see a faster uptake and a more robust public engagement strategy.”

Stevens said that if the city sees more applications for lead service connection replacement (replacement of the service connection on the land owner’s side of the property line must be replaced at the same time at the expense of the land owner) he thinks council should revisit the program timeline.

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“I think we’d like to see the uptake. So are we seeing a massive increase in people applying to have the pipes replaced. Are we seeing a massive uptake in access to filters?” said Stevens, referencing a program that gives residents with LSCs a free water filter.

“If we are, and it comes back to council it would be a matter of amending a report or pursuing a motion that would say ‘okay we want to see this fast-tracked.'”

City administration to prepare an annual report to the Operations and Community Services Committee on the Lead Service Connection Management Program.

Stevens says he’d also like to see more residents informed about the program and the health risks associated with lead.

“I think in the meantime what we need to figure out, is how do you engage with residents and make them aware of how important this is? How do you tell them more effectively that there are lead connections either on the private or public side?” Stevens asked.

He said he’d also like to see the list of city-owned LSCs made more accessible.

“I’d like to see the data turned into a searchable database on the city website, so if you see forget, or see this news story and want to know if you have one you can just go to the city website,” Stevens said.

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“Ideally what we’d see is: after a year, is the outreach working? Are they being replaced at a faster rate? That’s usually a window for council to say ‘let’s do this quicker.'”

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