About one-third of Kelowna’s water supply network is made up of asbestos cement pipes.
Asbestos cement pipes, which date back several decades and are no longer used for new construction, cover about 149 kilometres of the city’s 420-km-long water system.
“We are gradually replacing AC pipe due its age and condition,” city utilities manager Andrew Reeder said Wednesday.
Kelowna’s AC pipe tends to be in better condition than similar pipes used to carry water in the South Okanagan village of Naramata, Reeder said. Naramata has received a $3.6-million government grant to replace its five kilometres of AC pipe.
“The soils in Naramata are honestly corrosive compared to what they are generally like in Kelowna,” Reeder said, so the village’s AC pipe system is in poor condition with many leaks.
Although there are significant health risks associated with the use of asbestos in residential and public buildings, prompting its removal at considerable cost, no studies suggest asbestos cement pipe poses any health hazard, Reeder says.
The City of Kelowna has recently received tens of millions of dollars for an upgrade to its water systems, but the money is mainly for new infrastructure.
Routine replacement of aging and leaky sections of water pipe are typically paid for out of the city’s own utility funds, Reeder said.
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