LETTER: Unacceptably high levels of lead or above acceptable levels?

Abbotsford News reader asks about lead levels found in school water

Dear Editor,

Having read Reporter Kelvin Gawley’s “Unacceptable high levels of lead found in Abbotsford schools”, posted on your newspaper’s website on September 10 at 9:00 a.m. and updated later that day at 4:00 p.m., I am wondering about the difference between your headline which used the words ‘unacceptable high levels’ and the school district’s wording of ‘higher than acceptable lead amounts” when neither your newspaper nor the school district or even Fraser Health have told us what safe drinking limits are according to the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines, something referred to in Superintendent of Schools Kevin Godden’s letter to parents of students at the schools tested for water quality level during the summer.

Being a former English teacher and community newspaper editor much like yourself, as well as political party communications specialist, I guess that I am becoming a bit pedantic in my old age, wondering about the difference between “unacceptable high levels of lead” and “higher than acceptable lead levels” when I don’t know what the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines say are acceptable levels of lead from your newspaper’s article or the school district’s News Update of September 6, “Drinking Water Update”.

I guess that if the lead level is higher than acceptable levels it is unacceptable but unacceptable high levels implies something different than higher than acceptable lead levels.

I guess that I will have to “Google” the CDWQG and find out for myself…..but then what will all of your newspaper’s other 46,454 plus readers do.

Other than finding out for themselves, could someone, such as your reporter, find out for those of use who are benignly ignorant of the Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines or the results of the tests carried out by the School District during the summer as the complete results of the Facilities Maintenance Department’s extensive and pro-active testing have not been completed, according to Dale Churchill, Director of Facilities and Transportation, as he told the Board of Education at last night’s (Tuesday, September 13) meeting.

But, I would like to thank Reporter Gawley’s use of the term “higher-than-acceptable levels of lead” in his lead paragraph that he extracted, no doubt, from the School District’s News Update but would like to find out who the headline writer was with the “unacceptably high levels of lead…”.

I wonder how many parents became bothered by that headline and I also wonder if two of the readers who made comments in your newspaper’s “viewpoint” on the Editorial Page under the section “WebTalk” read Kelvin’s excellent article or accessed the School District’s website to read the Superintendent’s letter to parents and the two News updates before expressing their knee-jerk reactive comments.

I will end now as I will go and boil the water from the tap here in my 31 year old home with lead pipes or copper pipes…..I know not which and I am not going to put on coveralls and get under my manufactured home and crawl around in all the dust and cobwebs.

I wonder if people have been commenting about me being somewhat ‘strange’ lately without asking me if I am alright as I have been consuming water provided by the City of Abbotsford – as I live just outside of the Clearbrook Water Works District – for two years now.

G.E. MacDonell


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