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Lead monitoring in Calgary's water

The City of Calgary provides safe and reliable drinking water. We take our responsibility to protect public health every day very seriously.

Our drinking water quality meets or performs better than all federal and provincial health guidelines. Our water quality team closely monitors drinking water daily throughout the system from the river, to our treatment plants and throughout the distribution system that delivers water to homes and businesses.

Lead is not found in our source water, from the Bow or Elbow Rivers. Prior to 1950, lead was commonly used for water service piping. Copper and plastic pipes have since replaced lead. Today in Calgary, our water distribution system is lead-free and 99.8% of our service connections are also lead-free.

Lead service connection program

A service connection is the water pipe that connects from the water main on your street or alley to the piping inside your home. A lead service connection is a connection made out of lead piping.

The City is proactively working with the remaining customers (approximately 630 in use) identified with lead service connections. We mail notices to residents with lead service connections each year and offer a number of services to ensure high quality drinking water:

  • Water quality testing,
  • Education and tips about maintaining water quality, and
  • A rebate for a NSF-53 certified, kitchen-tap mounted or built-in water filtration device.

Lead service connections are replaced as nearby water mains are replaced, when sites are redeveloped and if monitoring indicates replacement is necessary.

For more information about our lead service connection program please call 311. If you have concerns about your water quality, contact 311 and the City will work with you to investigate.

Identifying lead service connections, piping and soldering

Service Line Illustration
Click on image to view full illustration

Lead service connections were typically installed in Calgary from 1939 to 1947, and most of these have since been replaced. If your home was built before or after this time (the title of your home will tell you when it was built), it likely does not have a lead service connection. The City mails annual notices to residents identified with lead service connections (approximately 630 in use).

Within the homeowner’s property line, there could be lead found in either the service pipes or soldering. Homes built prior to 1950 could have lead service pipes. Multi-family dwellings (with more than six units) will not have lead service pipes since lead is too soft for the pressure required for those kinds of buildings. Homes built prior to 1989 may have lead solder, which was used to solder pipes together before 1990. In either situation, corrosion or break down could cause lead to leach into the water. A licensed plumber can determine if a home contains lead solder, lead pipes or pipe fittings.

Lead cannot be seen, smelled or tasted in water. The only means to measure lead levels in a home is testing water collected at the tap. For an evaluation, residents can arrange for testing by a private accredited laboratory. For more information regarding laboratories in your area, visit the following websites:

All pipes on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. If you are interested in replacing the lead service connection on your property, please contact us for details at 311.

What you can do to ensure high quality drinking water

  • Flush the pipes: After long periods (more than a few hours) of non-use, let the water run until it is noticeably colder (this usually takes approximately two minutes) to flush water from the plumbing. This ensures stagnant water is flushed out and fresh water is drawn directly from our water distribution system.
    • Conservation Tip: Use flushed water for non-potable purposes such as watering plants or washing dishes.
  • Use cold water: For drinking, cooking or preparing baby formula use cold water. Hot water is more likely to leach minerals or metals from the plumbing. Boiling water does not remove lead.
  • Plumbing inspection: A licensed plumber can determine if a home contains lead solder, lead pipes or pipe fittings. The presence of these materials does not mean lead is in the water, but rather that there is the potential for lead to be in the water.
  • Home building and maintenance: Make sure lead-free materials are used when renovating or building a new home. Remove faucet strainers periodically to rinse and remove any debris.
  • Hire professionals: If installing water treatment systems such as water softeners or filtration devices, make sure you have the installation completed by a certified plumber.
  • If you have any concerns about your water quality, call 311.