Asbestos Cement in Water Pipes

The City of St. Albert provides clean and safe drinking water, which is always our top priority. St. Albert tests our water to meet provincial regulatory testing requirements for drinking water which are based on federal guidelines for water quality.  

Asbestos cement is a concrete pipe material that uses asbestos fibre to provide flexural strength which is similar to the way that rebar is used in larger concrete structures. This is a typical type of water line that is used throughout North America, but has not been installed in municipal water systems for over 50 years. 

In total, St. Albert has approximately 307 kilometres of water mains which can be broken down as follows:   

  • About 44 per cent of our water lines (~137 kilometres) are asbestos-cement (AC) that were installed between 1958 and 1984.  
  • Approximately 55 per cent of our water lines (~168 kilometres) are poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) that were installed after 1978.  
  • Less than one per cent of the city’s water lines (~2 kilometres) are either steel, high density polyethylene (HDPE) or pre-stressed concrete.  

Health Canada establishes the maximum allowable concertation for safe drinking water in Canada through the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and maintains that there is no consistent, convincing evidence that ingested asbestos is hazardous and there is no need to establish a maximum acceptable concentration for asbestos in drinking water. Health Canada has established that the ingestion of asbestos in drinking water does not pose a significant health risk.  

Public health information related to asbestos can be found on Health Canada’s website 

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Last edited: March 31, 2023