WINDSOR -- The re-introduction of fluoride into Windsor’s drinking water is expected to be delayed as more tests are conducted regarding lead levels.

The Board of Commissioners of the Windsor Utilities Commission on Wednesday authorized the management team of Enwin Utilities Ltd. to conduct further tests prior to the reintroduction of fluoride into Windsor’s water system.

"We are dedicated to ensuring the water we provide is safe and reliable," said Enwin president and CEO, Helga Reidel. "We have received a 100% rating on our annual audit by the Ministry for the last eight years, and we want to ensure we maintain our consistently high standards. Further testing will provide reassurance for WUC and for the public."

During a regular WUC meeting, commissioners reviewed results of recent tests conducted by Jacobs Engineering, including a treatability assessment, a review of fluoride additives and a recommendation for a fluoride system design.

The water engineering company also reviewed the potential effect of fluoride on Enwin’s corrosion control program.

The Jacobs report recommended further testing to make sure that the introduction of fluoride would not impact WUC’s ability to meet or exceed provincial regulations and federal drinking water guidelines for lead content.

Research has indicated that WUC will be the first known water utility to add fluoride to a drinking supply that already contains phosphoric acid, used in the existing corrosion control program.

"To our knowledge, this has not been tried before,” said Enwin’s VP Water Operations Garry Rossi. "Conducting further tests will allow us to exercise an abundance of caution with respect to the health and safety of our drinking water supply. We would rather take a bit longer in the testing phase, to ensure the best possible outcome."

The report from Jacobs specifically recommended the use of WUC’s pipe test loop to study water quality during a 12-month period.

It’s the same methodology Enwin used to evaluate the impact of its corrosion control program, before to implementation in 2016.

Enwin would look at the data to ensure that the fluoride addition does not negatively affect the corrosion control program.

The testing is expected to be completed by the middle of 2021. If the results are favourable, fluoride implementation is now expected to commence in late 2021.

In 2019, ENWIN and the Windsor Utilities Commission produced 38.7 trillion litres of potable water, delivered to Windsor, Tecumseh and LaSalle.