Water Sampling Program

Based on recent studies on the long-term health effects of lead, Health Canada issued a new guideline for lead exposure in drinking water in 2019. The limits have been reduced from 10 parts per billion to 5 parts per billion.

The City of Fort Saskatchewan’s water supply is safe, clean, and meets the new guidelines.

However, household plumbing materials can cause lead levels measured in private residences to exceed the Health Canada guidelines. Therefore, the new guidelines also require the City to test drinking water ‘at the tap’.

Water sampling 'at the tap'

As per the criteria set out by AEP (Alberta Environment and Parks), the City was broken down into development stages and years when determining where we need to sample. Some areas require more samples than others based on this criteria. Check out our Water Testing Locations Map to view the areas that we are looking for homes to sample from.

City employees will follow all applicable provincial public health guidelines when entering homes.

View our Water Testing Locations Map

We are looking for volunteers to have a water sample collected from their homes for lead testing.

Volunteer for the Water Sample Program

If you are selected for sampling, you will be contacted in June and July.

Please note: depending on how many people volunteer we may not be able to test everyone.

What happens next

No lead in your results
Your part in testing is done.

Lead in your results
A second test is required.

FAQs
Why did the Health Canada guideline change?

Health Canada now recognizes the science says there is a public health benefit to reducing lead exposure to levels that are as low as possible.

The guideline is intended to minimize public health risk from lead content in drinking water. It now has a lower maximum acceptable concentration for lead in drinking water.

This places Canada with one of the lowest targets in the world for lead in drinking water. 

Does the new guideline mean our “at the tap” drinking water isn’t safe? 

While nothing has changed overnight with your “at the tap” drinking water, it’s important to be aware of the new Health Canada guideline.

The guideline is intended to minimize public health risk from lead content in drinking water. It has a lower acceptable amount of lead in drinking water.

Lead in drinking water at the levels in your household plumbing is not an acute or immediate health risk; however, left unaddressed, longer-term exposure to lead in drinking water above the new guideline can have adverse health effects. 

Why is there concern about lead in drinking water?

Although the maximum allowable concentration for lead is 0.005mg/L there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe. As such, Health Canada strongly encourages lead levels to be reduced to levels as low as achievable. Exposure to lead in drinking water is only a concern if the contaminants are ingested. Exposure through inhalation and absorption through the skin during bathing and showering are not significant routes of exposure.

What happens if my test results exceed Health Canada’s guideline?

Fort Saskatchewan Utilities department will work with you to complete additional sampling to confirm that the previous test was accurate. If the second test also exceeds the guidelines, the City will provide information on ways you can reduce your exposure. 

What happens if I volunteer to have my water tested?

You will have your water tested for lead and receive the test results within 14 days of the City receiving the results from the laboratory. A test result will only represent a moment in time; however, it identifies any potential concerns with lead levels in your water. You can use this information to make informed health decisions. Your assistance will help Fort Saskatchewan Utilities department discover any issues with lead in the water system. 

What can I do if I am worried about lead now?

Residents can contact Health Link for health information on lead exposure toll free at 1-866-408-5465.

The following websites have good information on how you can reduce your potential lead exposure.

Water Talk: Reducing your exposure to lead from drinking water

Common questions about lead and drinking water

Drinking water: what about lead?

EPCOR: Lead in drinking water

I wasn't selected, where can I get my water tested?

Residents can find out if the water coming from their taps meets new guidelines by having their water tested at an accredited private lab.

Accredited labs

ALS Environmental
9450-17 Ave. NW Edmonton, Alberta T6N 1M9
Phone: 780-413-5227

AGAT Laboratories
6310 Roper Road Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3P9
Phone: 780-469-0106

CARO Analytical Services
17225 109 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5S 1H7
Phone: 780-489-9100

Bureau Veritas Canada
6744 -50 Street NW Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3M9
Phone: 780-577-7100 or 780-465-1212

Element Materials Technology Canada Inc.
7217 Roper Road Edmonton, Alberta T6B 3J4
Phone: 780-438-5522

PBR Laboratories Inc.
9960-67 Avenue NW Edmonton, Alberta T6E 0P5
Phone: 780-450-3957

EPCOR is replacing lead service lines in Edmonton. Are there lead service lines in Fort Saskatchewan?

While EPCOR will be replacing lead service lines in Edmonton, it is highly unlikely there are any lead water main pipes in Fort Saskatchewan. No lead services have been found in years previous with neighbourhood rehabs or repairs. This was again confirmed as we reach the end of a water meter replacement program.

 

Protecting your health

Fort Saskatchewan’s water supply is safe and clean, and meets the new Health Canada guideline. 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.

Related Health Canada documents

Drinking water: What about lead?

Water Talk: Reducing your exposure to lead from drinking water

Guidelines for Canadian drinking water quality

Guideline Technical Document - Lead