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Accelerated lead pipe replacements on track: regular communication with residents continues

For immediate release: November 6, 2019 - 9:43am
UE19-821

Saskatoon has one of the safest water supplies in North America.  The vast majority of Saskatoon neighbourhoods do not have lead line connections.

However, a goal to replace lead pipes that link older homes and businesses to Saskatoon’s main water supply is progressing as planned. In 2017, the City committed to removing all underground pipes containing lead and install lead-free ones within 10 years. The work is being done in conjunction with necessary water main and road upgrades.

“Most recently, water main replacement projects have been underway in Saskatoon’s most established neighbourhoods, such as City Park and Riversdale, where the pipes are more than 100 years old in many cases,” says Angela Gardiner, General Manager of Utilities and Environment.  “Replacements also occur when a water main breaks. The connections from the main water lines into homes and businesses are replaced at the same time.”

Of the 4,900 lead water service connections identified in 2017, over 2500 have already been replaced. The City expects to have all connections replaced by 2026, completing nearly 500 every year.

The City began replacing lead connections in established neighbourhoods in 2010. City Council accelerated the program in 2017.

“When it comes to overall quality, Saskatoon has one of the safest water supplies in the world. Regular test results show lead level content in our drinking water supply is 100 times lower than the Health Canada limit when it enters the water distribution system.”

However, properties within city neighbourhoods built before 1950 may still have lead water service pipes.  In these older neighbourhoods where lead connections remain present in someone’s home, there is a greater possibility that lead can be present in water left stagnant for six hours or more.

Because of this, and every year, the City makes sure every household with a lead connection is made aware of it and ensures owners or residents receive a pamphlet containing information about the accelerated rehabilitation program, how connection replacements are coordinated and what they can do to reduce their exposure to lead. The information is also available online at Saskatoon.ca/lead.

“The most important thing someone can do is flush the water for all least five minutes if it is going to be consumed.  It’s also safe for other uses like washing dishes or watering plants – so it doesn’t have to be wasted,” Gardiner says.

Without the aggressive program now in place, the timeline would have been 90 years.