City to help homeowners replace lead water pipes

OTTAWA – Ottawa councillors are helping residents replace their lead water pipes.

“The city’s Standing committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management today approved an update to the Lead Pipe Replacement Program,” city staff released in a statement today (Sept. 17). “Homeowners with lead water pipes that connect to non-lead city pipes would be eligible for a new rebate of up to $1,000, about 20 per cent of the total replacement cost.”

The city would continue to offer loans for properties where both the private and city portions of the water pipes are made of lead.

As a stop-gap measure, homeowners with confirmed lead levels that exceed Health Canada’s recently updated guideline, or who are awaiting pipe replacement under the program, could get a year’s worth of free water filters to remove lead from their tap water.

Homeowners might have lead water pipes if the home was built before 1955. To have your water tested for lead, call 3-1-1 to make an appointment.

According to an annual update on the city’s quality management system for drinking water, the city continues to deliver safe, high-quality drinking water. Although Ottawa’s drinking water supply is lead-free, small amounts of lead can dissolve as water flows through lead pipes, household plumbing and taps. In response to Health Canada’s new guideline for lead in drinking water, the city will add a trace amount of phosphate during treatment to improve corrosion control for watermains and household plumbing, minimizing exposure to lead in tap water caused by lead pipes. This new treatment is being implemented proactively in anticipation of the Province adopting the new lead standard.

The committee also approved an additional $500,000 investment in the Britannia Village berm. The berm was effective in protecting Britannia during the 2017 and 2019 floods, but the flood in 2019 was prolonged and there is evidence of leakage due to excess groundwater. The funding would be used to investigate leakage and make repairs to the berm’s integrity.

The committee received an update on solid waste collection issues in Ottawa’s west end. Staff are working with the current service provider to address the issues and the city has issued liquidated damages whenever the standard of performance has not been met. The city is doing everything within available resources to minimize the impact on residents and these efforts will continue until the collection contract is transitioned to Miller Waste Systems in 2020.

Items from today’s committee meeting that require city council approval will go to council on Wednesday, Sept. 25.