pH of Water to Change as Thunder Bay Begins Phasing Out Sodium Hydroxide

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THUNDER BAY – The City has provided this update on the state of drinking water in the city.

Thunder Bay is beginning to phase out the addition of sodium hydroxide to its water. This change will occur over the next two to three months. As a result, the pH of the water will decrease. Lead levels at the tap are expected to increase for customers with lead service pipes, returning to same level they were prior to 2018. There will be no disruption to water service during this adjustment period.

The City of Thunder Bay says that the quality of drinking water in the city is very high. The water produced by the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant does not contain lead nor does the water in the City’s distribution system.

The City states, “Lead enters the water when it sits still for long periods of time in lead pipes or fixtures. Lead pipes were used before the mid-1950’s to connect your home’s plumbing to the City’s watermain. Customers with lead service pipes have been provided a free water pitcher with filters that are certified to remove lead.”

“The City maintains a list of customers with lead service pipes and contacted these customers by mail,” said Michelle Warywoda, Director – Environment Division. “If you did not receive a notice or a filter, and suspect that you may have a lead service pipe, you should contact the City of Thunder Bay’s Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch at 625-2195.”

All customers should routinely flush their pipes prior to consumption to maintain water quality at the tap. To avoid wasting water, take a shower, run the washing machine, or run the dishwasher to clear the pipes. You may also find other uses for your flushed water, including watering plants or washing dishes. Flushing is particularly important for homes serviced with lead pipes.

The City continues to work with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit to evaluate further methods to reduce lead levels measured at the tap and update the City’s Corrosion Control Plan.

The City has notified local school boards and child care facilities with respect to this change. These facilities are regulated under Ontario Regulation 243/07 and have strict internal flushing and water testing requirements for lead in drinking water. To learn more about how this impacts the schools and daycares, contact the specific school board or facility.

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