Drinking water programs

Lead Pipe Replacement Program

The Lead Pipe Replacement Program provides support to eligible residents with the replacement of the public and private portions of a residential property’s lead service pipe.

Provided below are answers to common questions about the Lead Pipe Replacement Program.

If you have further questions about the program, please contact 3-1-1.

What is a water service pipe?

A water service pipe connects a building to the City’s municipal water supply. Property owners are responsible for the pipe up to their property line and the City owns and maintains the pipe from the property line to the water main.

How can I tell if I have a lead service pipe?

If your home was built after 1955, you do not have a lead service pipe. For older homes, the best way to determine if a service pipe is lead or copper is to scratch the service pipe with sandpaper to expose bare metal.

The only visible portion of the pipe is 50 cm in length, located between your basement’s concrete floor and the water meter. 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.

Residents can call 3-1-1 to request a water quality test.

For more information on lead and drinking water, please consult our frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Further information is also available from Drinking Water Ontario.

How can I apply to the Lead Pipe Replacement Program?

Property owners interested in lead service replacement must contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 to apply for the program.

Please note: Families with children under the age of six and pregnant women are given priority for service replacement.

After receiving an application, the City takes the following action:

Site review

The City reviews construction history, water main data and property information related to the service address to determine the likelihood that the City portion of the water service pipe is made from lead. The City will contact applicants by phone to advise them of their eligibility for the program.

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 pipe.

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 property owner not respond within two weeks, the opportunity for service replacement would be offered to another property owner.

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. The homeowner is responsible for these costs.

How do I pay?

The City offers three payment options:

  • Full payment at the time of the work
  • Financing over five (5) years
  • Financing over ten (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.

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, replacement of the water service pipe will be delayed to correspond with this construction activity.

How will the City prioritize the request to participate?

The City of Ottawa reserves the right to prioritize applications from families with children less than six years of age or households with pregnant women. Remaining applications are completed on a first come, first served basis.

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.

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 pipe inspection. If the property owner has signed an agreement and wishes to withdraw, they will be charged an administration fee plus the cost of any completed work on their property.

I already applied for the program. When will I be contacted for an appointment?

Property owners eligible for replacement will receive a phone call from the City 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.

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.

High Volume User Program

Save money and water with the City’s High Volume User (HVU) program. The HVU program offers rebates to property owners for installing eligible water efficient toilets, urinals, spray valves and commercial dishwashers and washing machines.

What are the benefits?

Inefficient use of water increases utility costs and places undue stress on the environment. These negative outcomes can often be avoided by retrofitting inefficient fixtures with devices which use less water while providing equal or superior performance. The HVU program aims to offset the costs when retrofitting water fixtures by proving rebates. Find out how these Ottawa organizations benefitted from the High Volume User program:

  • Ottawa Community Housing Bank Street location cut $78,000 from its annual water bill
  • Osgoode Properties sees return on investment eight months after installing water efficient toilets
  • Ramphos Holdings Inc. saves money with water efficient toilets and washing machines

Are you eligible?

The business or facility must be built before 1996, located in the City of Ottawa and be either:

An industrial, commercial or institutional property consuming a minimum of  25,000 m3 of water per year


A multi-residential property with six or more units.

Ready to apply?

  1. Complete the Screening and Application form [ PDF - 196 KB].
  2. Before removing old fixtures and appliances, take photos of what is being replaced.
  3. Send completed form and photos for review to:

WaterWise Coordinator
City of Ottawa 
951 Clyde Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1Z 5A6

Once your application has been approved, you will receive more information about next steps.

Frequently asked questions

Which toilet should I purchase?

Review the maximum performance (MaP) testing information to ensure the toilets you are considering meet the HVUP criteria. Toilet selection will be reviewed by the City as part of the screening form review and approval process.

What dollar rebate values are available?

Qualifying applications may receive:

  • Toilets: $50 rebate for single-flush and dual flush high-efficiency toilets
  • Urinals: $60 rebate for 3.8L or less; $75 rebate for waterless urinals
  • Spray valves: 50% of the pre-tax price, to a maximum of $200
  • Commercial dishwashers and washing machines: 25% of the pre-tax price, to a maximum of $1,000

The total maximum rebate is $10,000 per tax roll number.

Is there a deadline for completing the work?

After a project is approved, applicants must complete the work within 18 months.


Contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 or send an e-mail to: waterwise@ottawa.ca.

High Volume User success stories

Find out how local property owners have benefitted from the High Volume User program.

Ottawa Community Housing

In 2011, the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation (OCH) installed 144 water-efficient toilets at a facility located on Bank Street.

Water conserved:

~20,000 m3 of water/year

Rebate received:

$7,200 rebate

Return on investment:

1 year

Annual savings:


Osgoode Properties

In 2011, Osgoode Properties installed 122 water-efficient toilets in their building.

Water conserved:

~14,000 m3 of water/year

Rebate received:

$6,100 rebate

Return on investment:

8 months

Annual savings:


Ramphos Holdings Inc.

From 2011-2012, Ramphos Holdings Inc. installed 18 water-efficient toilets and 2 water-efficient washing machines.

Water conserved:

~400 m3 of water/year 

Rebate received:

$1,643 rebate

Return on investment:

Five years  

Annual savings:


Flusher Hydrant Program

The City of Ottawa’s Flusher Hydrant Program issues permits to businesses requiring non-potable water for services such as street cleaning or pool filling. Businesses looking to use City water from flusher hydrants must obtain a permit per vehicle and report their usage. Unauthorized use of a fire hydrant can result in fines.

If you would like to obtain a flusher hydrant permit or have any questions related to the use and operation of a flusher hydrant, please call 3-1-1.

Social Housing Water Efficiency Kit Program

Who is an eligible Social Housing Provider?

In order to be eligible, a Social Housing project must be under program administration with City of Ottawa as the Service Manager.

How can Social Housing Providers get kits?

In order to receive kits, Social Housing Providers must complete an application form and forward the application by mail to the WaterWise Coordinator at 951 Clyde Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1Z 5A6 or fax to 613-728-4183.

Please allow 2 weeks for processing. Note, kits must be received and signed for by the Social Housing Provider’s representative.

How many kits are available?

2,500 kits will be available on a first come-first served basis to those facilities built before 1996 only. Kits are limited to one kit per unit to a maximum of 50 percent of all units.

For example, a Social Housing Provider managing 300 units is entitled to a maximum 150 kits.

Why only facilities built before 1996?

In 1996, the Ontario Building Code was amended and water efficiency requirements were added.

What’s in a kit?

The tamper proof water efficiency kit consists of the following and are subject to change without notice:

Item Flow Rate (L/min) Maximum Flow Rate (L/min) under Ontario Building Code

One (1) bathroom aerator



One (1) kitchen aerator



One (1) low flow showerhead



Cathodic Protection Program

What is cathodic protection?

Cathodic protection is a process that involves attaching a series of magnesium anodes to the outside of a water main or water service.
 Cathodic Protection

Why are we doing it?

With age, metal pipes corrode and eventually break. Cathodic protection is a progressive technology that reduces corrosion of water mains and water services by transferring the corrosion from the outside of the pipe to a “sacrificial” anode.

Where is cathodic protection being installed?

Next schedule update to be posted in 2018.

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 long will it take?

The installation process only takes a few minutes and the holes are refilled the same day. The disruption to residents and motorists should be minimal. The work is done on the outside of the pipes so the quality of your water is not affected.

When will the work take place?

The work starts in May and finishes in early August.

Questions or concerns

Contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 or send an email to: info-water@ottawa.ca.

Work schedule 

The next schedule will be posted in 2018.

Backflow Prevention Program

The Backflow Prevention Program mitigates the risk of backflow to the city’s water distribution system, as required under City of Ottawa By-Law 2013-360.

Learn More