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Lead and water service lines

Protecting public health by providing clean and safe drinking water is our most important priority.

The City of Calgary has some of the highest quality drinking water in the world. Calgary’s source water is drawn from the Bow and Elbow Rivers.

We test our drinking water over 100,000 times a year and meet or perform better than all provincial and federal guidelines.


What about lead?

It is rare to find lead in Calgary’s drinking water. That’s because lead is not naturally occurring in the Bow and Elbow Rivers. The only way for lead to be found in the water is for it to be picked up in the distribution system.

Lead service connections were only used for a short time period, primarily between 1939 and 1947, during World War II when copper was not readily available.

Following the war, copper once again became the main material for service lines. The City’s data shows that it is rare to find a home built after 1950 that has lead service lines on public or private property.

The combination of an active lead replacement program and ongoing infill development, which replaces older homes, continues to reduce the number of homes with lead service connections.

Today, there are only 550 homes in Calgary with public lead service connections.

When compared to our total number of 339,000 customers this represents only 0.2% of homes receiving water service. In other words, 99.8% of Calgary homes do not have public lead service connections.

What about the small number of remaining older homes with a public lead service?

The City of Calgary reaches out to and works directly with these customers to test their drinking water each year.

Among this small sub-set of customers, sampling shows that approximately 20% to 30% of these homes may test above Health Canada Guidelines, which are the strictest standards in the world for lead.

If we do find a home that has elevated levels of lead we take action right away to ensure the drinking water is safe.

The City proactively works with homeowners whose property has been identified as having public lead service pipes. We mail notices to these residents each year and we offer these services to ensure high quality drinking water:

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

Replacing Lead Service Lines

Lead service lines can be replaced due to the following reasons:

  1. Redevelopment
  2. Leaks
  3. Watermain replacement
  4. Through The City's Annual Tap Water Sampling Program

Through the Tap Water Sampling Program, one option for addressing unacceptable concentrations of lead in drinking water is the replacement of lead services.

The City will work with customers whose water quality exceeds Health Canada’s Maximum Acceptable Concentration for lead to replace any public portion of the service that is lead.

The City will replace the public side of the service main after any lead service on the private side has been replaced by the property owner.

The reason for this is that a partial replacement, where a length of lead service is left in the ground, disturbs the pipe and can increase the amount of lead in the water.

What is the difference between private and public water service lines?

The City is responsible for the water service line that extends from the water main up to the homeowner’s property line.

All pipes, solder and fittings on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. The figure below demonstrates the delineation between the “city side” and “household side”.

Water Service Property Lines Infographic

The City typically does not maintain records of water services on private property. If you have reason to believe that your home has a public lead water service, and you have not received a letter from The City in the past year, please contact 311.

Steps homeowners can take to mitigate lead in drinking water

Flush the pipes: After long periods of non-use, let the water run for a period of time. This ensures 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.

NSF 53 Filters: Consider the use of an NSF 53 certified filter. Filters with NSF 53 certification are independently proven to reduce lead concentrations and come in a variety of formats such as pitcher filters, tap mounted filters and built-in filters.

For more information on NSF certified filters, please visit the NSF website.

Water Quality Testing: The City only provides water quality testing through the annual Tap Water Sampling Program for properties known to, or likely having a lead water service line.

In all other cases, to test the water homeowners should arrange for sampling and testing by a private accredited licensed laboratory. For more information visit:

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 done by a certified plumber.

Further resources

Lead service lines by community

Some properties in 36 of Calgary's older communities have public lead service lines. The remaining 162 communities have none.

Community Lead Service Lines

ALTADORE

5

BANKVIEW

12

BELTLINE

17

BRIDGELAND/RIVERSIDE

44

CAPITOL HILL

18

CLIFF BUNGALOW

10

CRESCENT HEIGHTS

55

DOWNTOWN WEST END

1

ELBOW PARK

12

ELBOYA

3

ERLTON

5

HIGHLAND PARK

2

HILLHURST

16

HOUNSFIELD HEIGHTS/BRIAR HILL

2

INGLEWOOD

36

LOWER MOUNT ROYAL

3

MANCHESTER

3

MANCHESTER INDUSTRIAL

2

MISSION

3

MOUNT PLEASANT

53

OGDEN

16

PARKHILL

9

RAMSAY

32

RENFREW

19

RICHMOND

3

RIDEAU PARK

2

ROSEDALE

65

ROXBORO

4

SCARBORO

7

SHAGANAPPI

1

SOUTH CALGARY

13

SUNALTA

5

SUNNYSIDE

13

TUXEDO PARK

38

UPPER MOUNT ROYAL

17

WEST HILLHURST

16