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Lead in Drinking Water Service Lines

Halton Drinking Water – where does drinking water come from?

  • In Halton Region, drinking water comes from either Lake Ontario or groundwater wells. The water is treated and then delivered to homes and businesses through a system of underground water service lines. 
  • The property owner is responsible for the portion of the water service line that is under their private property.
  • Halton Region is responsible for the portion of the water service line from the watermain to the property line and the water meter located outside or inside your property.

How can lead get into drinking water?

  • Homes built in 1952 may still have lead service connections or internal plumbing. Homes built before 1990 may have brass fittings containing lead, or lead solder connecting to the copper pipes.
  • Exposure to lead has decreased significantly due to its reduction or removal from construction materials, gasoline, paint and solder and changes to the building code. Today, most exposure to lead is from food, dirt and dust.

How does Halton Region ensure all drinking water is lead-free?

Halton Region is committed to providing residents and businesses with safe, clean drinking water. Halton’s Lead Sampling Program ensures all drinking water is lead-free through:

  • Regular testing of public infrastructure and the water leaving Halton purification/treatment plants, as directed  by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change;
  • Replacing all Region-owned lead service pipes;
  • Educating the public on how to test for lead and how to stay safe and healthy; and,
  • Encouraging property owners to replace privately owned service lines if lead is detected.

What is the Ontario Drinking Water Standards for lead?

  • The MOECC Drinking Water Quality Standard for lead is 10 micrograms per litre. This level was set to protect the most "at risk" population, pregnant women and small children.
  • Historical test data indicates the potential for lead in private plumbing in Halton Region drinking water is low. Since 2012, MOECC has provided an exemption for Halton Region for regular sampling of residential/private properties. Halton Region does continue to conduct regular sampling of public infrastructure for the presence of lead. 
  • Although the risk of lead in Halton drinking water remains low, the MOECC has requested Ontario municipalities, including Halton Region, to undertake a series of private/residential lead sampling in 2017.

How do I determine if I have a lead service line or lead plumbing?

  • Volunteer to have Halton Region test for lead levels from an indoor water tap
  • Hire a licensed plumber to inspect the private service line and/or indoor plumbing; and/or,
  • Scratch the surface of the pipe between your floor or wall and your indoor water meter with sandpaper to expose the metal. If the pipe is dull grey and easily scratched by a hard object, it is likely lead. If it is not easily scratched, it is likely galvanized iron. If it is red-brown in colour, it is likely copper.

What should I do if lead is detected in a lead service line or plumbing?

If you suspect, or know that your water has lead levels greater than 10 micrograms per litre, Halton Region recommends property owners take the following precautions:

  • Replace the private portion of the lead service line and/or private plumbing.
  • For water sitting in pipes for six hours or more, run the cold water tap at a medium flow rate for five minutes or until the water is cold to the touch. Flushing will replenish the pipes with fresh, municipal drinking water.
  • Prepare infant formula with flushed, cold, filtered or bottled water. A National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) water filter is recommended.
  • Use cold, flushed water for drinking and preparing food. Boiling your water will not reduce lead levels.

Does lead in drinking water pose a health risk?

  • There is no safe exposure level for lead. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful, especially for pregnant women and children under six years of age.
  • Today, most of our exposure to lead is from food, dirt and dust. The amount of lead exposure from drinking water is low compared to all other sources.

For More Information

Visit these websites:
To learn more about drinking water standards in Ontario and the MOECC, visit: