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Lead Pipe Replacement Program

Answers to common questions about the Lead Pipe Replacement Program and information about simple measures that can be taken to reduce your exposure to lead are provided below. Please call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) if you have further questions about the program.

The fact sheetInformation for Property Owners about Lead Water Service Line Replacement,
can be found on the Ministry of the Environment's Drinking Water Ontario website.

Can I tell by looking at a water pipe if it is lead?

Yes. The water pipe servicing your home or business should be located in the basement. The only visible portion of the pipe is 50 cm in length, located between the concrete floor and the water meter. The rest of the pipe is underground with no visible access. The best way to determine if the service is lead or copper is to scratch the pipe below the meter with sandpaper to expose the bare metal. Lead pipes are dull grey in colour and are easily scratched by a hard object. Copper pipes are red-brown and corroded portions may show a green deposit.

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How can I participate in the Lead Pipe Replacement Program?

  1. Notification: The City notifies all property owners within areas of the City suspected of having lead services. Families with children under the age of six and pregnant women are given priority for service replacement.
  2. Application: Property owners interested in lead service replacement must contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401), to register for the program.
  3. Site Review: The City reviews construction history, water main data and property information related to the service address to determine the likelihood of the City portion of the water service being made from lead. The City will send a letter to applicants to advise them if they are eligible for the program and when a home inspection will be scheduled.
  4. Home Inspection: A home inspection will be scheduled to verify the presence of lead and to provide the property owner with an estimate of the replacement cost of the lead water service.
  5. Property Owner Commitment: Once eligibility is established, the property owner will be required to sign an agreement directing the City to proceed with the work. Property owners are given two weeks to commit to the program. Should the owner not respond within two weeks, their name will be removed from the list and the opportunity for service replacement will be offered to another property owner.

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What is the cost to the homeowner?

The full cost for replacing the water service from the water main to the water meter (including the City’s cost) generally ranges from $6,000 to $10,000. The cost to the property owner is generally between $2,500 to $5,000. These estimates do not include the removal and salvage of items such as furniture and fixtures, gardens, landscaping, decks, porches and interior work or finishes and the repair or replacement of these items upon the completion of the water service replacement. It is the homeowner's responsibility to pay for these costs.

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How do I pay?

The City offers three payment plans:

  1. Full payment at the time of the work
  2. Financing over five years
  3. Financing over 10 years.

If the property owner finances the work through the City, the payment will be added to the property tax bill. The interest rate will be the City's debenture rate at the time of the debenture issuance. The exact rate will only be known a few weeks after the work is completed. The City's debenture rate is usually slightly higher than financial institution personal loan rates.

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How do I know if I qualify for the program?

The following criteria is used to determine whether an applicant qualifies for the program:

  • The owner of the property must apply
  • The City portion of the water service must be lead
  • The property owner must agree to pay for the portion of the service replaced on their property.

If an area is scheduled for the City’s water main replacement program within the next two years, then the replacement of the water service will be delayed to correspond with the construction year of the water main replacement project.

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How will the City prioritize the request to participate?

The Lead Pipe Replacement Program is heavily subscribed and the City of Ottawa reserves the right to prioritize applications so that families with children less than six years of age or pregnant women living in the home will be completed first. Remaining applications are completed on a first come, first served basis.

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Should I also replace my sewer pipe?

Before the replacement of the lead service, the City will proceed with an inspection of the sewer pipe. If the sewer pipe is not in good condition, City staff and the property owner will discuss possible solutions on a case-by-case basis.

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Can I withdraw from the program?

The property owner may withdraw from the program at any time. There is no charge for the initial site visit and water service inspection, however, once a property owner signs an agreement, they will be charged an administration fee plus the cost of any completed work on their property if they withdraw.

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I already applied for the program, when will I be contacted for an appointment?

Property ownerseligible for replacement will receive a letter from the City of Ottawa prior to the construction season to provide a date when their water service will be replaced. Waiting times vary depending on the homeowner’s priority for replacement and the time and date of their application. Families with children less than six years of age and pregnant women are given first priority for replacement followed by other applicants on a first come, first served basis.

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I applied for service replacement last year but I have not received a notice for an onsite inspection. Should I reapply for the program?

No. Your application will remain on file and there is no need to reapply for the program if you already applied for the program.

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