In Century old Toronto neighborhoods, aging underground water supply system are often 60 yrs or older. Lead was a common material used in the first half of the 20th century when many homes in the City were built at the time. The City’s water supply system and pipe connecting to individual home is often made from lead. Since the 1950s, the Ontario Plumbing Code was changed to prohibit the use of lead for water service connection.
As part of the City of Toronto Water Pipe Replacement program at a cost fo $250million, the city will replace the water pipes on its own land during its 5-yr program. Homeowners are repsonsible for replacing the private line water pipe from the property line to the water meter. The cost range from $1800-$3000. Homeowners can ask the City to do the work or hire their own contractor. Due to the costly work, most of the time, homeowners may not bother to replace/upgrade the pipe connecting froirm their home up to the property line to the city water service. Studies have shown that this partial replacement does not mitigate or reduce the lead levels in water, but could often make it worse.
A client who purchased a home in one of the older neighbourhoods recently got their water tested for lead levels. The test results came back 10 times above average. Their particular neighborhood was not scheduled for lead replacement for another 2 years. After taking the water sample to the city, the process of upgarding the water connection is now sped up.
How do you know if you have lead pipes?
If your house was built before the mid-1950’s and you’re not sure if you have lead pipes, simply go into the basement and find the water meter or main shut off valve; take a look at the pipe coming through the foundation and if possible give it a scrap with a knife.
If the bare metal is shiny and silver in colour, you may have lead.
Benefits of the Lead Pipe Replacement Program
- All lead (and otherwise sub-standard) water service connections replaced over a nine-year period.
- Improved drinking water quality for Toronto residents.
- Improved water pressure/flow for homes with smaller water service connections (as typically installed in older homes).
Toronto Home owner’s responsibilities When your home’s water service connection is being replaced, the City will replace its portion of the water service connection (which runs from the water supply system to your property line) at no expense to you.In order to ensure the improvement of water quality and/or pressure in your home, the City recommends that you replace the portion of the pipe running from your property line into your home. As the home owner, you are responsible for the cost of replacing the private portion of the water service connection.
Before the City begins any replacement project, the home owner will be notified in writing. The contractor hired by the City for this work can provide an estimate for replacing the private portion of the pipe if you wish to use their services. As the property owner, you are not obligated to use the City’s contractor for the replacement of your portion of the pipe. But having the work done at the same time is recommended. You can bring in your own contractor to do this work, or use the City’s contractor.
When replacing your portion of the pipe, you must agree to have a water meter installed (orreplaced if your current meter is an older model).
The water meter will be provided by the City at no charge to you, but the installation costs are your responsibility. (The City will pay for installation only if there was no meter on your property previously.) Also, once the installation work is complete, you must notify the City so the water meter can be inspected.
What is the Lead Pipe Replacement Program?
The City of Toronto’s water supply system (the distribution system that delivers clean, safe drinking water to all homes and businesses in Toronto) has no lead pipes. The system is consistently tested for lead (along with other impurities) and tests results show no lead contamination exists in the system.
If your home was built before 1955, it may have been connected to the City’s water supply system with lead pipes. As these pipes age, they can release small amounts of lead into the water. The City of Toronto is committed to removing all lead pipes and replacing them with standard 19 mm (3/4 inch) pipes made of approved materials such as copper.
Through its Lead Pipe Replacement Program, the City will replace its portion of any lead water service connection on City property (the pipe running from the water supply system to your property line) at no cost to the property owner. Replacement of the private portion of the water service connection (the portion of the pipe running from your property line to your home) is your responsibility as the property owner.
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