In March 2023, CTV’s program W5 aired an episode about cement pipes and asbestos, and their possible threat to drinking water and community health. As the largest Canadian city to rely almost exclusively on groundwater for its drinking water supply, the City takes the protection and quality of our drinking water, and our community health, very seriously.
No asbestos cement pipes in the City’s drinking water delivery system
There are no asbestos cement pipes in the City’s treated drinking water delivery system. Past asset records show under two kilometres of asbestos cement watermains in the City’s Glen Collector System at the Arkell Spring Grounds. These pipes collect naturally occurring shallow groundwater present in the Arkell Well Field and conveys this water and other well sources to F.M. Woods Station where drinking water is treated before it flows to delivery pipes and your tap.
No asbestos in City drinking water
Following W5’s report, and in an abundance of caution, the City consulted with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. On May 23, 2023, staff collected a sample of water from the Glen Collector System at the Arkell Spring Grounds.
Lex Scientific was contracted to analyze the sample and on June 1, 2023, the City received the results of the sample. The Lex Scientific water analysis technical memo indicated tests showed no detection of asbestos fibres in the raw water groundwater sample.
Guelph’s water is safe to drink
Our drinking water meets or does better than Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. You can learn more about the excellent quality of Guelph’s drinking water in our annual water reports.
The MECP defines Ontario’s Drinking Water Standards, Objectives and Guidelines under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and the City currently tests drinking water by following these guidelines. Because there is no consistent, convincing evidence that asbestos ingested through water is harmful to your health, the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards don’t include a requirement for asbestos testing.
Is asbestos harmful to your health?
Health Canada and the World Health Organization have concluded there is no consistent, convincing evidence that asbestos ingested through water is harmful to your health. If you drink water containing asbestos fibres, you eliminate the fibres, mostly through feces. For this reason, Health Canada has not established drinking water guidelines for asbestos. You can get more information at Asbestos in drinking water – Canada.ca