New lead guideline for drinking water

Josephburg and Moyer Recreation Centre

Recent water sample results taken at private residences in Josephburg and at Moyer Recreation Centre had lead levels higher than the new maximum acceptable concentration set by Health Canada. Residents in the area may wish to take action to reduce risk of lead exposure. More information

Image of a woman filling a glass of water from the kitchen tap.

New guidelines: reducing lead exposure in drinking water

Based on recent studies on the long term health effects of lead, Health Canada has issued a new guideline for lead exposure in drinking water. At 0.005 mg/L, Canada's guideline value for lead in drinking water is one of the lowest in the world.

The issue of lead in drinking water is not new. The proposed new Health Canada guideline, however, is part of an overall lead reduction strategy that recognizes there is new information on the health effects of exposure to lead from all sources (not just drinking water).

Protecting your health

Strathcona County’s water supply is safe and clean, and meets the new Health Canada guideline. When drinking water leaves Strathcona County's water reservoirs it contains no measurable level of lead.

However, the most common sources of lead in drinking water are “at the tap.” In other words, in the plumbing in your house and if you have lead service lines on your property.

If you are concerned that you may have a lead service line this video from EPCOR shows you how to check in your home.

Residents who think their homes may have lead fixtures can take measures to reduce their risk of lead exposure.

  • Flush standing water in pipes each morning or after returning home at the end of the day—by flushing the toilet, washing your hands, or letting the water run cold. The flushing clears out any water that’s been sitting in the lead pipes. By doing this, you ensure the water is straight from the main service line.

  • Use cold water for both drinking and cooking—hot water dissolves more lead from plumbing and boiling water doesn’t remove lead.

  • Not all home water-treatment filters remove lead. Before purchasing a filter, check the model to ensure it meets lead reduction certification. It should be NSF-53 certified for lead reduction.

Residents can contact Health Link 24/7 for health information on lead exposure toll free at 811.

Image of the water distribution system from the water treatment plant, through the municipal system to the resident's house.

Related Health Canada documents

Josephburg and Moyer Recreation Centre

Recent water samples taken at private residences and Moyer Recreation Centre had lead levels above the new maximum acceptable concentration, when water has been sitting in the pipes. However, when the taps have been running for a while, the levels are within the new Health Canada guideline.

As homes in Josephburg are of a similar age, residents in the area may wish to take action to reduce the risk of lead exposure.

Questions about the new Health Canada guideline

Regional water supply

It’s important for our regional water supplier, EPCOR, to address the new guidelines for drinking water. EPCOR has a plan to minimize risk of lead exposure through drinking water at the tap.

EPCOR is proposing to add orthophosphate to the treated drinking water to protect against lead release from all sources (lead service lines and plumbing) throughout Edmonton and the region. Strathcona County water is supplied from EPCOR so any changes to the drinking water will make their way to Strathcona County.

What is orthophosphate?

Orthophosphate is a form of phosphorus. Orthophosphate is naturally present in food, is a common additive to beverages and has no impact on the taste or odour of drinking water. You'd have to drink 104 glasses of tap water to match the phosphorus in one banana.

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.

Will there be an impact on the environment?

Strathcona County and its regional partners want to ensure the lead abatement strategy has minimal environmental impact.

Orthophosphate must be removed at the wastewater treatment facility. Some drinking water containing orthophosphate may make its way directly to waterbodies through land runoff and stormwater systems. Strathcona County is still investigating the environmental impact of additional phosphate in the wastewater.

Phone: 780-467-7785

Last updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Page ID: 50547