In October 2019, the Quebec government announced that it will adopt the new Health Canada guidelines on lead levels in drinking water. This lowers the maximum acceptable concentration of lead in drinking water from 0.010 mg/liter to 0.005 mg/liter. These new norms mean that certain homes and buildings in Montreal West may now exceed the allowed concentration of lead in drinking water.
The drinking water produced by the Montreal water treatment plant is of very good quality. However, the dissolution of lead pipes and lead plumbing can make it possible for lead to be present in the water. Until the 1970s, the municipal water service lines were built with lead pipes. Since 1990, and in accordance with the Quebec Plumbing Code, the Town actively replaces lead water service lines on the public side during its rehabilitation projects. To date, approximately 70% of the water service lines on the public side are lead-free. The Town will continue replacing lead pipes in all its future infrastructure work until all lead pipes have been replaced.
1. Is the drinking water in Montreal West of good quality?
The drinking water produced by the Montreal water treatment plant is of very good quality.
2. If the water is of good quality, how is it possible for lead to be found in the drinking water?
The drinking water supply pipes serving some buildings can make it possible for lead to be present in the water. The presence of lead can come from the water service lines (on the private or the public side) and from internal plumbing fixtures (welding, taps and accessories). The buildings at risk of having a lead service entrance are those with fewer than eight units, built before 1970 and those built between 1940 and 1950, commonly known as wartime housing.
3. What is a water service line?
A water service line connects a building with the municipal water supply. The service line consists of 2 parts: a public section managed by the Town and a private section managed by the owners.
The Town is responsible for the portion of pipe running from the water main to the shut-off valve, while property owners are responsible for the portion running from the valve to the home or building.
4. Are the water service lines on my property made of lead?
Since 1990, and in accordance with the Quebec Plumbing Code, the Town actively replaces lead water services lines on the public side during its rehabilitation projects. To date, approximately 70% of the water service lines on the public side are lead-free. Here is a list of streets on which it is very unlikely to find lead service lines on the public side.
Last updated on November 29, 2019
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5. What does the Town of Montreal West plan to do with the remaining lead service lines?
Since 1990, the Town of Montreal West has been actively replacing lead pipes on the public side during its rehabilitation projects. The Town will continue replacing lead pipes in all its future infrastructure work until all lead pipes have been replaced.
Since the 2006 demerger, the Town has been proactive in seeking the interest of residents to participate in the replacement of the lead connection on the private side during infrastructure work completed on their street. Some residents have taken advantage of these projects to replace the private section of the lead service line at their own expense but at a lower cost.
6. Does the Town measure the lead level in drinking water?
The City of Montreal is responsible for the supply and quality control of the drinking water distributed to residents on the Island of Montreal. The City of Montreal conducts annual screening tests in collaboration with the Town of Montreal West. The results of these inspections is always communicated with the owners.
7. Who is responsible for replacing water service pipes?
The responsibility is shared between the Town and the home owners. The public section (from the water main to the shut-off valve) is replaced at the Town’s expense.
The private section (from the shut-off valve to the tap) is replaced at the owner’s expense.
8. I would like to have my water tested, what should I do?
Residents who wish to have their water tested must communicate directly with an accredited lab for a drinking water analysis. These tests are at their own expense. View a list of accredited labs in the province.
9. How can you tell if your water service line is made of lead?
Find the water valve and look at the pipe. Lead pipes are grey, don’t echo if you tap them, leave metallic marks when scratched and don’t attract a magnet.
You can also contact a plumber to check your water service line.
10. How can I minimize my family’s exposure to lead in drinking water?
You can use a household water filter (a filtering pitcher, a filter below your sink, or one that is secured to the tap) to remove lead to undetectable levels. Make sure that your water filter is NSF-compliant for lead reduction, under standard NSF/ANSI no 53.
When in doubt, Health Canada recommends the following measures to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.
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