Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay looking for new solutions to lead in drinking water

The City of Thunder Bay says it's phasing out the use of sodium hydroxide in the city's water supply and is looking for other options to reduce lead levels at the tap. 

Households with lead service pipes will receive free water filters while the city considers its options

The city says it's phasing out the use of sodium hydroxide. (CBC)

The City of Thunder Bay says it's phasing out the use of sodium hydroxide in the city's water supply and is looking for other options to reduce lead levels at the tap. 

While it does that, it will provide free water filters to households with lead service pipes, officials said in a news release issued Friday. 

The city first added sodium hydroxide to the water supply back in 2018 after the province mandated it to reduce lead levels in drinking water. 

The sodium hydroxide succeeded in reducing lead levels, the city said, but it's also receiving increased reports of pin-hole leaks in the pipes. 

It's now working with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to find other forms of corrosion control, officials said.

Meanwhile, the city is advising residents to routinely flush their pipes prior to consumption to maintain water quality at the tap. 

This can be accomplished by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, doing a load of laundry, or running your cold water tap to clear the pipes.

"In the coming weeks, customers with lead service pipes will receive additional information on this change and will be provided with a drinking water filter for one year at no charge," said Michelle Warywoda, the director of the city's environment division. "It is important customers use the filter provided as lead found in drinking water can pose significant health risks. This is especially important for homes with children under the age of six, pregnant women, or women planning a pregnancy."