Windsor tap water 'no comparison' to Flint: Enwin
A glass of water is shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., on Jan. 29, 2013.
WINDSOR -- Officials in Windsor believe the city's drinking water is safe, despite a new investigation has found drinking water in some Canadian cities actually exceeds the dangerous levels seen in Flint, MI, and people have been consuming it without knowing.
The investigation, which included journalists from the Associated Press, looked at drinking water in 11 different Canadian cities.
The results show that one-third had lead levels that exceeded the national safety guideline of five parts per billion. The provincial threshold is twice as high, at 10 parts per billion.
According to the study, a quarter of the tests conducted in Windsor over the past two years exceeded federal guidelines, with 289 exceedances.
But Enwin representatives say the study doesn’t account for repeat testing at the same location, which is inflating the numbers dramatically. Enwin’s vice president of water operations, Garry Rossi, tells CTV News that only one private residence in the city had lead levels exceeding the provincial standard in its most recent study. 18 samples from the same study, completed in 2018, tested higher the federal guideline.
Rossi spoke with CTV from a water conference in Banff, AB, where he says discussion among attendees quickly turned to the study.
“We’re struggling with comparison to Flint,” Rossi said. “The last thing you want are people to lose faith in the water they're taking out of the tap.”
“We're talking about orders of magnitude that are not even in the same stratosphere,” Rossi continued. “We are doing the right things and we were ahead of the game here,” he said.
Of the city's 70,000 service lines, 6,000 still contain lead but Rossi says Enwin is working to completely eliminate lead infrastructure from all of its services lines – a job he projects will be complete by 2026.
He says the message about Windsor’s tap water is clear: it’s safe -- and if levels are higher than acceptable, the landowner is made aware.
"We've done our due diligence, we know the results, we've taken the best practices learned across the industry and applied them to our drinking water system,” Rossi said. “I can assure you the utmost care has been put on the technology and infrastructure required to protect our customers and protect our drinking water."
Enwin supplies drinking water not only to residents of Windsor, but also Tecumseh, LaSalle and parts of Lakeshore.
Anything past the service line on private property is up to individual property owners to bring up to acceptable levels – and anyone with lead discovered in their water during testing is made aware of that fact.
“We're aware of it, we've dealt with it, we continue to monitor it, and ensure that our overall goal is zero,” Rossi said. “We want to get down to the lowest achievable possible number that we can. And by all the programs we've put our water through... these are the best ways to mitigate this and get it to controllable levels.”
-With files from The Associated Press