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Concerned about lead in your drinking water? Here’s what you need to know

November 13, 2019
Feature Stories
  1. Drinking water supplied by the City of Ottawa is lead-free.
    It remains lead-free right up until it reaches the watermain on your street. If your home is supplied by a lead water service pipe, however, trace amounts of lead can dissolve into your tap water. Approximately 15 per cent of homes in Ottawa were originally constructed with water service pipes made of lead.
    Water glass filled at a tap

     
  2. If your home was built after 1955, you do not have a lead water service pipe.
    In Ottawa, lead supply pipes were used in home construction only up until 1955. Since then, water service pipes have been made of copper. Ottawa residents who live in homes built after 1955 are at little or no risk of lead exposure through tap water. The same is true of commercial and multi-residential properties.
  3. Living in a home built before 1955? Take action to keep your tap water lead-free.
    If your home was built prior to 1955, you might have a lead water service pipe connecting your home to the City’s water supply. Here are tips for keeping your tap water lead-free. You can also take advantage of the City’s Lead Pipe Replacement Program to help you replace your water service pipe.
  4. Public schools, private schools and child-care centres conduct extensive lead testing for water fountains and taps.
    Lead can dissolve in drinking water during contact with lead pipes, brass fixtures and lead solder, if these are present within a school. All public schools, private schools and child-care centres in Ontario are required to flush plumbing on a regularly prescribed schedule, test water for lead annually and take immediate action if levels exceed the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard. Ottawa Public Health ensures all these institutions take action to resolve any issues with tap water that does not meet the standard. More information is available from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.
  5. Ottawa has an excellent supply of safe drinking water.
    Each year, the City performs more than 100,000 tests to ensure our drinking water is safe and that it meets all federal guidelines and provincial standards. In addition, the City has an active research program to continuously improve the quality of our drinking water. In anticipation of Ontario adopting a new limit of five parts per billion for lead in drinking water, we are already making enhancements to our water treatment process to further decrease lead levels in homes that have lead water service pipes.

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