While the vast majority of Saskatoon neighbourhoods do not have lead line connections, 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.
Through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, the Government of Canada is contributing up to $15.8 million, the Government of Saskatchewan is contributing up to $7.9 million, and the City of Saskatoon is contributing $7.9 million toward this initiative worth a total of $31.6 million.
The City of Saskatoon is also contributing an additional $11.7 million to water and sewer replacement projects as part of its annual programs.
Without the replacement funding, the timeline would have been 90 years.