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Hamilton adding a new chemical to drinking water

Around November 7, the city will adding another chemical to your drinking water. Along with chloride, fluoride, chlorine and aqueous ammonia, you’ll now be ingesting orthophosphate.

Orthophosphorus is a form of phosphorus – not only do humans have phosphorus in their bones and teeth, but it’s an essential mineral for the repair and growth of body cells. As people, we need low levels of phosphorus to survive.

The chemical will be added to Hamilton’s water supply on or around November 7 in the form of food-grade phosphoric acid. By the time the clear, odourless liquid reaches your taps at home there’ll only be a minimal amount of orthophosphate left.

Hamilton is adding the chemical in order to protect residents. Orthophosphate will adhere to pipes as a protective coating to control corrosion – especially on the city’s remaining old lead pipes. As lead pipes age they begin to corrode, forcing the lead particles to mix with the water. Consuming even a small amount of lead can be incredibly harmful for your health.

While Hamilton has replaced all lead water mains in the city, we are still replacing lead pipe connections to private properties. Some homeowners with houses built before the mid-1960s may also have incoming lead pipes as well. It’s estimated that approximately 20,000 lead pipes still exist throughout the city.

Hamilton isn’t the first city to add orthophosphate to its drinking water. Other Canadian cities such as Halifax, Toronto and Winnipeg use it – the United Kingdom has been treating their water with it for over 30 years.

It’ll cost approximately $300,000 a year to add orthophosphate into Hamilton’s water supply. Construction of the orthosphosphate building, as well as the equipment needed, is estimated to cost around $4.5 million.

What do you think about the addition of this new chemical? Does your home use any lead pipes? Let us know in the comments.

Pipe photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force / Todd DeGarmo

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