The following information is being provided to assist residents with any questions they may have with respect to the Town's water quality and stories in the media reporting on high levels of lead in drinking water in some municipalities around the GTA.
Lead testing is part of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) testing protocol. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act,
the Town is obligated to conduct lead testing once a year. The results can be found on the Annual Drinking Water Report provided to Council, as well as posted here
The sites selected for lead sampling are in the older, more established areas of Town where lead services would more likely be present. Samples are taken from a tap at the end of a water service line.
Lead enters the drinking water as a result of still water being in contact with lead materials for several hours. The water may then accumulate lead levels during this period of inactivity. There are a number of sources of lead found at residential dwellings such as, lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, faucets made of brass and chrome plated brass and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect a home to the watermain.
The Town has been proactive in replacing any lead services that are encountered through capital or maintenance programs. To date, lead services have been sporadically discovered in areas constructed prior to 1952. When these services are encountered the Town replaces the lead service within the right-of-way. The affected homeowner is notified that a lead service has been found and advised of their responsibility to replace the lead service on the private side, however, the homeowner is not legally required to do so.
The Town's lead results have always been well below the Provincial limits and in many cases below measurable limits. The maximum acceptable concentration for lead in drinking water is 0.01 mg/L. This applies to water at the point of consumption since lead is only present as a result of a breakdown of lead solder, lead containing brass fittings or lead pipes, which are found in domestic plumbing and the service connections to buildings. This year's lead results confirm readings are less than the detectable limit of 0.0007 mg/L.
As noted, the Town’s concentration of lead within the distribution system is well within the acceptable Provincial limits, however, if you are concerned about lead in your plumbing, the following precautionary steps can be taken to limit possible exposure:
- Flush standing water in pipes each morning by first flushing the toilet, washing your hands or letting the water run for five minutes or until the water is cold to the touch. Flushing clears water from the plumbing and home service line to ensure the drinking water comes from the main, where lead is not present.
- Use cold water for drinking, cooking or preparing baby formula. Hot water dissolves more lead from plumbing. Boiling water DOES NOT remove lead.
- A licensed plumber can determine if a home contains lead solder, lead pipes or pipe fittings. A plumber can also determine if a home has a lead service line connecting the home plumbing to the Town's water system. The presence of these materials does not mean lead is in the water, but rather that there is the potential for lead to be in the water.
- You can't see, smell or taste lead in water. The only effective means to measure lead levels in a home is testing at the tap. For an evaluation of lead levels inside homes, residents can arrange for testing by a private accredited licensed laboratory. For more information regarding accredited licensed laboratories in Ontario that test for lead in drinking water, visit the Ontario Ministry of the Environment Website.
If you have any other questions or concerns regarding water quality, please contact the Community Services Department at the Operations Centre at (905) 884-8013.