Key elements of the Strategy include:
1. Adding a lead Inhibitor (orthophosphate) to drinking water
One of the safest and most efficient ways to reduce or eliminate lead from a home’s service lines and plumbing is by adding a lead inhibitor at the source. Orthophosphate is safe and commonly used as an additive in the water treatment process by utilities across North America and the United Kingdom.
Orthophosphate creates a protective coating on the inside of lead pipes and plumbing that prevents lead from leaching into drinking water. It is commonly used for this purpose by water utilities across North America and the United Kingdom. It has no impact on the taste or odour of drinking water. It is naturally present in food, is a common additive to beverages and is considered to be safe. To illustrate, you'd have to drink 104 glasses of tap water to match the phosphorus in one banana. We added orthophosphate to the water treatment process in 2023, which should help most Edmonton homes and businesses to comply with the new lower lead level guidelines set out by Health Canada.
Adding orthophosphate to water
2. Lead Service Line Replacement Program
As part of our enhanced Lead Mitigation Program, we identified approximately 360 homes in Edmonton as "high priority" for lead service line replacements. The Lead Service Line Replacement Program, which was approved by City Council and City Administration in July 2019, is working to remove priority lead lines throughout the city free of charge.
A total of 144 line replacements were completed in 2021, bringing the cumulative total to 213 over the past two years. At this pace, EPCOR is on track to complete the priority replacements by the 2023 target.
Program information for homeowners
It's important to note that there are no measurable levels of lead in drinking water when it leaves EPCOR's water treatment plants. But lead can enter a home's water supply from plumbing fixtures, interior pipes, or if a lead service line connects a house to the water distribution network. EPCOR's Lead Mitigation Strategy is supported by both Alberta Health Services and Alberta Environment and Parks.