EPCOR water meets and/or exceeds Health Canada's Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
When drinking water leaves EPCOR's water treatment plants and moves through the municipal water pipes, it is safe and contains no measureable level of lead. The water may pick up some lead as it moves through the service line and through plumbing inside the home. Sources of lead can include lead service lines and/or a customer's private in-house plumbing.
In Edmonton, there are a small number of homes (about 4,000) that have lead water service lines on the utility side. The majority of these homes were built before the early 1950s when lead was one of the options homebuilders had when choosing a material for service lines.
Water at the tap in these homes has the potential to exceed the maximum acceptable concentration for lead in drinking water set by Health Canada. We notify these customers annually about their lead service lines and have a lead management program in place to help reduce lead in their drinking water.
Our recent testing has shown that other, newer homes also have the potential to exceed the new proposed guideline as in-house plumbing, such as old solder, brass plumbing fixtures and/or lead deposits in plumbing system is also a source of lead.
A proposed new Health Canada guideline will recommend reducing the current maximum acceptable concentration for lead in drinking water from 0.010 mg/L to 0.005 mg/L. In anticipation of the new guideline and to ensure we continue to minimize risks from lead in drinking water, EPCOR is currently working to optimize and expand our lead management program.
The proposed Health Canada guideline is part of a long-term strategy to reduce overall exposure of the population to lead from all sources. Lead in drinking water is not an acute risk but can be more of a chronic, long-term risk over time. Once announced, the new guideline has the potential to enhance public health protection, and as Edmonton's water provider, EPCOR supports the change as it aligns with its efforts to reduce lead exposure from drinking water as much as possible.
How to tell if your water service line is lead
- If your home was built before 1960, it is more likely you could have a lead service line.
- If you receive an annual lead notification from EPCOR, this means our records show the utility portion of your service line is lead.
- If you aren't sure if the homeowner portion of your service line is lead, here are instructions on how you can check and find out.
How to maintain good water quality in your home
- Do not use water from your hot taps for drinking, eating, cooking or baking. Only consume water from your cold taps, then heat it up if needed.
- Run your cold water tap for at least three minutes any time you haven't used the water for six or more hours, if you will be drinking or cooking with it.
- Consider using a water filter that is NSF-53 Certified for lead reduction. Home improvement stores sell these filters, and they can be tap-mounted units, under-the-counter units, fridge water dispenser units or a filtered water pitcher.
- Consider having your tap water tested for lead.
If you have questions or concerns about lead in drinking water, here's some advice on maintaining good water quality, or contact us at (780) 412-6858.