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Drinking water advisories and planned work

Frozen water service pipes

Severe and uninterrupted cold can result in a frozen water service pipe, preventing water from reaching your internal plumbing. The City will issue a seasonal run water advisory to vulnerable properties when frost reaches the appropriate depth. If a water service pipe freezes, City crews work to restore water service to the affected property as soon as possible.

What is a water service pipe?

A water service pipe runs underground, connecting a building’s plumbing to a City water main. Every property that receives water from one of the City of Ottawa’s municipal drinking water systems has a water service pipe.

If you have received a letter from the City advising you to run your water, or if your service pipe has frozen in the past, your pipes are vulnerable to freezing this winter.

To report a frozen service pipe, call 3-1-1.

City response to a frozen water service pipe

To help City crews thaw your frozen water service pipe:

  • Find the shut-off valve outside your house and clear away the snow.
  • Clear a path to the water shut-off valve inside your house and remove any furniture or breakables from the immediate area.

The City will call you in advance, providing as much notice as possible. If you do not answer our call, we will leave a message and a direct contact number.

Wait times will vary based on the volume of requests at any given time. Please contact 3-1-1 for information on current wait times for temporary service installation or thawing.

Fees for thawing a frozen water service pipe

If the frozen water service is on municipal property, there is no charge to the property owner for thawing.

If the frozen water service is on private property, property owners will be charged the cost of work plus 15%. This fee applies each time the City must thaw a water service on private property.

Private street/water main: Residents living on a private street (including, but not limited to a Condominium Corporation) will not have access to inspection and/or thawing services.

Thawing your water pipes manually

If you are able to determine that the frozen section of water pipe is located inside your home, you can try the following methods:

  • Open a cold water tap nearest to the frozen section so you will know when the pipe is thawed.
  • Apply heat using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, or from an electric hair dryer.
  • Use a portable heater with caution, especially around flammable materials.
  • Ensure rooms or crawl spaces where pipes are located are adequately heated.

IMPORTANT: Never use an open flame to thaw a frozen water pipe. Always use caution when applying any heat source near insulation or other flammable materials.

Preventing a frozen water service pipe

In order to help prevent the water service pipe on your property from freezing this winter, please consider the following alternatives:

  • Ensure your indoor air temperature is kept above 8ºC in areas that contain water pipes and especially near the meter.
  • Run a continuous steady stream of cold water, at least the width of a drinking straw or 1/4" or 5 cm, until the frost is out of the ground (end of April).
    • If you received a letter from the City about letting your water run, it means your property is at risk and you should follow these instructions.
  • Determine why your service is at risk of freezing. The service may not be installed to a proper depth.
  • Wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes most likely to freeze (e.g. near outside walls, crawl spaces, attics).
  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage, especially in areas where pipes are located.

Cost of running water during an advisory

If records show the service freezes on your property, you must cover the cost of running the water. You should have received a notice from the City informing you of this situation.

If records show the service freezes on the City's property, and you have received a written notification from the City to run your water this winter, you will not be charged extra for the cost of running your water. Your water bill will be calculated based on your previous consumption patterns. Final adjustments, if necessary, will be made between late spring and early summer.

If you’ve received notification on your water bill that two or more consecutive billings have been based on estimated consumption, please call 613-580-2424 ext. 22224 to book a meter repair appointment.

Options for water while pipes are frozen

If the City is unable to establish a temporary water service line from a neighbouring property:

  • The City will provide bottled water to affected residents. Request bottled water through 3-1-1.
  • Use of the shower facilities will be permitted at any City recreation facility (no admission fee will be charged).
  • Snow can be melted in your bathtub for non-potable use, such as flushing toilets.

All residents should have an emergency water kit or supply available year-round as part of normal emergency preparedness.

Temporary water service lines (if applicable)

If your water service pipe freezes, the City may install a temporary water service line – an external hose extending to your property from a neighbour’s yard. In some cases, it is less disruptive and expensive to allow a water service pipe to thaw as the frost leaves the ground. During winters with deep frost, there is always a chance that services will re-freeze or thaw attempts will be unsuccessful.

While being provided with a temporary service line, both you and your neighbour will not be charged extra for the cost of running your water. Your water bill will be calculated based on your previous consumption patterns. Final adjustments, if necessary, will be made between late spring and early summer.

If you’ve received notification on your water bill that two or more consecutive billings have been based on estimated consumption, please call 613-580-2424 ext. 22224 to book a meter repair appointment.

Note:

  • While on a temporary service line, you may experience some reduction in pressure if both you and your neighbour use water at the same time, but not to levels that would prevent normal use.
  • Water provided from the temporary service line is safe to drink.
  • Both provider and recipient of a temporary water service line should continue to run water until the water service pipe thaws, to avoid freezing in the temporary line.

The City will keep you on a temporary service line until your water service pipe thaws on its own. If you need to be removed from the temporary service line earlier, please contact 3-1-1 to create a service request.

Determining if your water service pipe has thawed

As temperatures rise above zero for several consecutive days and the ground begins to thaw, leave a tap running in your home and turn off the tap where the temporary service line is connected to your home. If your water continues to run, your water service pipe has thawed. If the water does not continue running, open the tap where the temporary service line is connected and try again later. To avoid re-freezing, wait until there has been a long period of above-zero temperatures (day and night) before you attempt this.

Returning the hose and equipment when the service pipe has thawed

Once the majority of water service pipes have thawed (typically in late April or early May), the City will contact you and collect the temporary service equipment. You can disconnect your hose once your pipes have thawed and you have running water. If you need assistance disconnecting your hose, please contact 3-1-1.

Temporary water service providers

If you provide water through a temporary service line for a frozen service pipe, both you and your neighbour will not be charged extra for the cost of running your water. Your water bill will be calculated based on your previous consumption patterns. Final adjustments, if necessary, will be made between late spring and early summer.

If you’ve received notification on your water bill that two or more consecutive billings have been based on estimated consumption, please call 613-580-2424 ext. 22224 to book a meter repair appointment.

Will the external hose running cause my pipes to freeze?

No. You pipes will not freeze if you leave your water running and ensure your indoor air temperature is above 8oC in areas that contain water pipes. When your neighbour’s water service has thawed, turn off your external tap and drain your external water line (as you would in the fall).

If your water pipes or temporary service line freeze, call 3-1-1.

How will I know when to stop my water from running?

When your neighbour or the City advises you that the service has been thawed, you can stop running your water.

Fire hydrant maintenance and testing

The City of Ottawa maintains and tests more than 23,000 fire hydrants, ensuring they are in operation for firefighters in the event of a fire.

Learn More

Water main maintenance - Cathodic Protection Program

The City of Ottawa’s Water Services completes preventative water main maintenance to ensure the continued efficient delivery of safe drinking water to your community.

What is cathodic protection?

Cathodic protection is a process that involves attaching a series of magnesium rods (or "anodes") to the outside of a metallic water main or water service to provide corrosion protection to the water main.


 Cathodic Protection

Why are we doing it?

With age, metal pipes corrode and eventually break. Cathodic protection helps prevent this process by transferring the corrosion from the outside of the water main to a “sacrificial” anode.

Why was my street selected?

The City analyzed the frequency and severity of water main breaks in Ottawa over a five year period. From this analysis, locations were identified and prioritized. 

How is it done?

Work crews drill a series of 30 cm (1 foot) diameter holes on City property and insert magnesium (sacrificial) anodes beneath the ground. The anodes are connected together by a wire which is attached to your water service.

Will cathodic protection be added to all water mains?

No. Cathodic protection is for metallic pipes. Today, most water mains are made from PVC.

How will this work impact residents?

  • There will be noise associated with the work.
  • The installation process takes minutes and holes are refilled the same day.
  • Traffic and pedestrian impacts are minimal.
  • Work is done on the outside of the pipe, so water quality and pressure are not affected.

When will the work take place?

The work starts in May and finishes in early-August. Work takes place between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Questions or concerns

For more information, please contact the City’s Water Information Line by phone at 613-580-2424, extension 22300 or by email at info-water@ottawa.ca.

2021 work schedule

Ward Street From To
1 Vineyard Dr Voyageur Dr Jeanne d'Arc Blvd
1 Gadwell Crt Kingfisher Cres Kingfisher Cres
6 Harry Douglas Dr. Eileen Cres Iber Rd
6 Beechfern Dr Wintergreen Dr Dead End
6 Brae Cres. Stittsville Main St Stittsville Main St
6 Brigade Ave. Cherry Dr Sunnyside Dr
6 Buttonwood Tr. Trailway Cir Trailway Cir
6 Caribou Ave. Carleton Cathcart St Orville St
6 Carleton Cathcart St. Stittsville Main St Caribou Ave
6 Castlefield Ave Beechfern Dr Oakfern Cres
6 Cherry Dr. Fernbank Rd Sunray Cres
6 Dowdall Cres. Woodwind Cres Woodwind Cres
6 Eagle Rock Way Springbrook Dr Trailway Cir
6 Fernbank Rd. Edenwylde Dr Etta St
6 Hampel Cres. Wintergreen Dr Wintergreen Dr
6 Havenwood Trl. Trailway Cir Moss Hill Trl
6 Henry Goulburn Way Cypress Garden Brae Cres
6 Hesse Cres. Beechfern Dr Beechfern Dr
6 Iber Rd. Hazeldean Rd Abbott St
6 James Lewis Ave. Hartsmere Dr Baywood Dr
6 John Sidney Cres. Liard St LiardSt
6 Joseph Cir Johnwoods St Johnwoods St
6 Liard St. Stittsville Main St Fernbank Rd
6 Lone Meadow Trl Trailway Cir Trailway Cir
6 Morningsun Cres. Liard St Sunray Cres
6 Moss Hill Trail Trailway Cir Abbott St
6 Oakfern Cres. Carbery Dr Beechfern Dr
6 Pine Bluff Trl. Trailway Cir Trailway Cir
6 Pinecone Trl. Trailway Cir Trailway Cir
6 Poole Creek Cres. Fringewood Dr Fringewood Dr
6 Red Oaks Trl. Trailway Cir Trailway Cir
6 Shady Branch Trl Trailway Cir Trailway Cir
6 Spindle Way Cherry Dr Cherry Dr
6 Springwood Cir. Trailway Cir Springwood Cir
6 Sunnyside Dr. Fernbank Rd Cherry Dr
6 Sunray Cres. Liard St Liard St
6 Sweetnam Dr. Harry Douglas Dr Hazeldean Rd
6 Trailway Cir. Springbrook Dr Trailway Cir
6 Valerie St. Alon St Dead End
6 White Cedar St. Norway Spruce St Dead End
6 Willow Gardens Cres. Brae Cres Brae Cres
6 Abbott St West Stittsville Main St West Ridge Dr
6 Belton Ave Lanigan Cres Hobin St
6 Beverly St Delamere Dr Stittsville Main St
6 Birdstone Ave Beverly St Hobin St
6 Ember Glow Crt Beverly St Dead End
6 Forest Heights Ave Stitt St Manchester St
6 Hobin St. Stittsville Main St Carp Rd
6 Jonathan Pack St. Abbott St W Beverly St
6 Lazy Nol Crt Fringewood Dr Lazy Nol Crt
6 Pullman Ave. Beverly St Hobin St
6 Stitt St. Abbott St W Forest Heights Ave
6 Stittsville Main St Etta St Hazeldean Rd
11 Rothwell Dr Whippoorwill Dr Cedar Rd
11 Wick Cres Rothwell Dr Rothwell Dr
11 Donovan Crt Clovelly Rd Dead End
11 Oriole Dr. Rebecca Cres Delong Dr
23 Belleview Dr Vanstone Dr Pickford Dr
23 Black Rivers Pl Bridle Park Dr Dead-End
23 Bramblewood Cres Stonemeadow Dr Stonemeadow Dr
23 Bridle Park Dr Bridgestone Dr Stonemeadow Dr
23 Bylot Crt Bernier Terr Dead-End
23 Cadence Gate Eagleson Rd Equestrian Dr
23 Chimo Dr Katimavik Rd Katimavik Rd
23 Fessenden Way Jarlan Terr McCurdy Dr
23 Marcasite Rd West Dead-End Belleview Dr
23 McClure Cres Chimo Dr Chimo Dr
23 Millman Crt Pickford Dr Dead-End
23 Parsons Ridge Rd Young Rd McCurdy Dr
23 Peterson Pl Robarts Cres Dead-End
23 Pineview Rd Vanstone Dr Belleview Dr
23 Redfox Pl Equestrian Dr Dead-End
23 Shannondoe Cres Stonemeadow Dr Stonemeadow Dr
23 Vanstone Dr Marcasite Rd Kakulu Rd

Warning: Door-to-door sales of water filters and softeners

The City of Ottawa warns residents to be aware of door-to-door salespeople making false claims about the quality of Ottawa’s drinking water. These individuals have been known to approach residents to sell water filtration or treatment systems that are not needed, and provide incorrect information about drinking water quality.

As of March 1, 2018, Ontario has banned unsolicited, door-to-door sales of water purifiers, filters, treatment devices and other household appliances to better protect consumers from aggressive and misleading contracting at home. Learn more about the new rules.

Ottawa’s drinking water consistently meets all Federal and Provincial standards and has received a rating of 100% by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for several years. The City of Ottawa publishes an extensive drinking water quality sampling and testing program, and City staff will respond promptly to any concerns or inquiries about drinking water quality.

Residents are reminded that:

  • City employees do not contact residents to sell products or services.
  • Except in emergency situations, home access is scheduled in advance.
  • City employees carry identification at all times. You have the right to ask for ID.
  • City employees always travel in City of Ottawa logo-identified vehicles.
  • Should you have concerns or wish to report suspicious visits or calls, please contact 3-1-1.

A marked City of Ottawa vehicle.

What you should know during a boil water advisory

How do I use water when a boil water advisory has been issued?

Water should be brought to a rolling boil and boiled for one minute before use.

Use tap water for:

  • Washing clothes (unless the water is cloudy)
  • Taking showers(adults and older children)
  • Shaving
  • Flushing toilets

Use boiled water for:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Hand washing
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Preparing food and baby formula
  • Making ice
  • Coffee makers
  • Sponge bathing babies and young children (after cooling)
  • Giving water to pets

Do not use:

  • Kitchen and other household water filters
  • Ice makers and soda dispensers with a line to the water supply
  • Children’s water play such as wading pools and water tables

How else can I disinfect my hands?

You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, containing more than 60% alcohol. Pre-moistened towelettes used for cleaning babies during a diaper change are not effective for disinfecting hands.

How do I wash dishes?

  1. Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would using hot water or your dishwasher
  2. In a separate basin, add 5 ml (1 tsp) of unscented household liquid bleach for each 4.5 l (5 quart) of warm water
  3. Soak the rinsed dishes in the bleached water for at least one minute
  4. Let the dishes air dry completely.

How do I disinfect countertops and utensils in contact with raw meat?

These surfaces should be washed with soap and hot water first and then sanitized with a bleach solution. Mix 60 ml (1/4 cup) to 6 l (1½ gallons) water. Soak items for 1 minute and let dishes air dry.

What if someone is, or becomes ill, or has special needs?

For more information call Ottawa Public Health (613-580-2424 ext. 28020) to speak with a nurse or contact your doctor and mention the boil water advisory.

What should I do after the boil water advisory is lifted?

  • Run cold water faucets for one minute before using the water.
  • Run drinking fountains for one minute before using the water.
  • Flush all garden hoses by running cold water through them for five minutes.
  • Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle.
  • Drain and refill hot water heaters set below 45°Celsius (normal setting is 60°Celsius)

For more information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse, call 613-580-6744.

Health Canada - Boil Water Advisories and Boil Water Orders