Côte Saint-Luc still far from eliminating lead pipe problem – Montreal

Two years after an investigation found that the city of Côte Saint-Luc, Que., Had a significant problem with lead in drinking water, some local residents say work to replace lead pipes is too slow.

Following reporting by Global News and Concordias Institute for Investigative Journalism in 2019, Côte Saint-Luc put in place a plan of action to address the problem.

“It’s just dragging on,” said Sivan Rehan, who lives on Davies Avenue.

Rehan was concerned when a test commissioned by the Institute for Investigative Journalism in 2019 found that her tap water contained seven parts per billion lead, slightly above Quebec’s limit of five parts per billion.

Two years later, she says there is no schedule for replacing lead pipes leading to her home from the city.

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“I just feel like the whole process is very slow and we don’t even have a plan or a guarantee or a clue what they are up to,” she explained.

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Côte Saint-Luc has one of the worst tap water in Quebec due to lead contamination

Lead pipes are most likely to be found in homes built before 1970. According to Global News coverage, Côte Saint-Luc announced it will test 3,200 homes by 2023.

COVID delayed testing in 2020, but officials now say around 1,300 tests have been done. Hundreds of results have come back, and so far about 70 percent of them have exceeded the five parts per billion mark. Residents must sign up to be tested and it takes up to eight weeks for the results to be available.

“I don’t know why it has to take so long,” said Rehan. “I was very disappointed because I was hoping things would go a little faster, especially because it was delayed compared to last year.”

Steve Erdelyi, the Côte Saint-Luc city councilor in charge of the lead pipe file, said the six to eight week waiting period was always to be expected.

“The goal is to complete these tests and then develop a comprehensive plan to remove all of the lead from the pipes,” he said.

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A 2019 press release on the Côte Saint-Luc website states: “Our employees are now calculating this to see how quickly we can do it.”

There is no safe lead content in water. Use has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, and other ailments.

“The goal is to go street by street and work on the areas with the highest lead content and slowly remove the lead from all pipes on the Côte Saint-Luc,” explained Erdelyi.

Rehan is impatient and fears it could be years before the city removes its lead pipes.

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Côte Saint-Luc is offering $ 50 off filters to get lead out of water

“We’re really up in the air with that,” she said.

Acting Mayor Mitchell Brownstein declined an interview request on the subject and instead offered Erdelyi Global News.

Mayoral candidate David Tordjman says if elected he would make lead elimination a priority.

“Lead in water is a health problem that residents are very concerned about for good reason,” he told Global News.

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“We should spend more of our money there and make the effort. The staff do a great job. You just need the resources to achieve this. “

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Erdelyi said he felt that water leadership was “not a political issue”.

“It’s about doing what’s best for the residents,” he said.

Erdelyi couldn’t say whether the expensive process would take five, 10 or even 20 years, but the faster the city tackles the problem, the more expensive it will be.

“If we do it much faster it means we have less money to spend on other priorities and we are doing various analyzes to see how we can do that and still keep the city like we have been doing all these years “, He called.

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The Quebec Environment Ministry sends a warning to the Côte Saint-Luc about a lack of drinking water reports

Right now, the city is switching pipes to streets that are being repaved, offering $ 50 subsidies on filtered water jugs and $ 200 on filters that are attached to sinks.

Rehan installed filters on their kitchen and bathroom sinks shortly after Global News reported in 2019.

“My children were young and we didn’t want them to take lead,” she said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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