Halton’s Drinking Water Systems
Halton’s drinking water comes from either Lake Ontario or groundwater sources.
The water is treated to provincial water quality standards and then potable water is distributed to homes and businesses through underground water systems.
Who is responsible for the water service lines and plumbing?
The property owner is responsible for the section of water service line that runs from the curb stop into the home. Property owners are also responsible for the maintenance of devices, service valves, plumbing, fittings and accessories located on the private side of the property line, as defined by the Drinking Water System By-law.
Halton Region is responsible for the section of the water service line that runs under the street, up to and including the curb stop (from the watermain to the property line). We also maintain the water meter inside and outside your home, but not the pipes that connect directly to the water meter.
How does Halton Region ensure all drinking water is safe to drink?
Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards
Halton’s water is safe to drink and the potential for lead in our drinking water is extremely low in our community.
Halton Region’s annual water quality reports confirm that in the public portion of the system we are meeting Provincial standards, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 (external link). You can view the most recent Drinking Water System Quality Report on the Water Quality Reports page.
The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) enforces the Drinking Water Quality Standard for municipalities across Ontario. The Provincial Standard for lead is 10 µg/L (micrograms per litre).
Halton Region conducts regular sampling of public infrastructure and lead sampling in homes and within Halton’s distribution systems as mandated by the province through the Community Lead Testing Program.
Results between 2007 and 2019:
- Number of Lead Samples Taken: 3,604
- Compliance Rating: Greater than 99%
Although the risk of lead in Halton Region’s drinking water systems remain low, the MECP requires that Ontario Municipalities, including Halton Region, continue to sample for lead in private plumbing and the Municipal Drinking Water Systems twice a year.
How Halton Region keeps water safe
Our high compliance rating of 99% is a result of all the proactive and continuous measures Halton Region has taken over the past two decades to ensure we are delivering the safest and highest quality drinking water possible.
- We conduct regular testing of public infrastructure and the water leaving Halton Region’s treatment plants, as directed by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) (external link)
- Completed in 2007, the Region’s Cast Iron Watermain Replacement Program identified and replaced all old cast iron watermains in Halton Region.
- At the same time, we replaced all known lead public service lines and connections.
- As part of our continuous monitoring, we investigate the neighborhood for the presence of lead as part of any watermain project or at the time of a water main break.
- If lead is observed, Halton Region takes immediate corrective action and replaces the service line or connection.
- Since the Cast Iron Watermain Replacement Program was completed, lead services have been observed three times within the public right-of-way and those services were removed.
- We also help homeowners check for the presence of lead as part of our ongoing Water Meter Replacement Program and we encourage residents to replace privately owned service lines if lead is detected.
How to check your home’s plumbing or service line for lead?
Checking your plumbing or service line for lead
Although Halton’s drinking water is safe and the risk of lead is very low, there may be lead in the water from private pipes, fittings and connections in older homes. If your house was built before 1975, we encourage you to check your service line for lead.
To check or observe for lead pipes:
- Go to your basement or crawlspace.
- Locate the pipes coming into your home through the wall or floor that connect to your water meter.
- Check if it's lead:
- Lead pipes are soft and dull grey in colour.
- Scratch the pipe with a coin, if it is not easily scratched it is not lead.
- Hold a magnet to the pipe, if it sticks it is not lead. Lead pipes are not magnetic.
The following pipes do not contain lead:
- plastic pipes which come in a variety of colours
- copper pipes that are red-brown in colour or may be corroded with white or green coatings
- galvanized steel pipes which are hard, not easily scratched, grey in colour or may be coated; galvanized pipes are magnetic.
Volunteers needed: Provincial Drinking Water Lead Testing Program
Halton Region is committed to providing residents and businesses with safe, clean drinking water. Halton routinely tests for the presence of lead in the municipal drinking water system. As legislated by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Halton Region must also test for the presence of lead in drinking water at consumers’ taps. Halton Region is now looking for residents to volunteer for this community-wide drinking water sampling program.
- Halton Region is looking for volunteers who live in an older home who suspect they have a lead service connection or lead in their plumbing. (Homes built before 1952 may have lead service connections or internal lead plumbing, and homes built before 1990 may have lead solder connecting copper pipes.)
- Halton staff will require access to your property to collect a sample.
- Testing is free and the results will be shared with you.
If you are unsure if you have lead pipes and are interested in volunteering for our lead testing program, or if you have any other questions email Access Halton or call 311 to request an appointment. A representative from Halton Region will visit your home to confirm if you have lead pipes and to provide guidance on the next steps you need to take.
If you live in a condo corporation, please contact your property management group.
What to do if you have lead pipes
If lead is suspected in the plumbing service line, we encourage residents to take corrective action to replace the private portion of the lead plumbing and/or service line.
You can also take other steps to reduce lead levels in drinking water by:
- Running the cold water tap at a medium flow rate for five minutes or until the water is cold to touch if water has been sitting in the pipes for six hours or more.
- Flushing your water to replenish the pipes with safe municipal drinking water.
- Using cold, flushed water for drinking and preparing food.
Please note: Boiling your water will not reduce lead levels.
What is the health risk of lead?
Halton’s water is safe to drink. The potential for lead in Halton Region’s drinking water system is extremely low. All known public lead service lines and connections have been replaced.
You are at a higher risk of lead exposure if you:
- Live in an older home that has a lead service pipe or lead paint
- Consume wild game killed with a lead shot
- Work with lead including making stained glass, lead fishing weights, shooting etc.
- Consume traditional medications or privately imported medications, supplements, and spices
- Use consumer products that may contain lead, such as costume jewelry, art supplies, leaded crystal, and glazes on ceramics and pottery
A developing fetus and young children are most vulnerable to long term lead exposure. It can cause neurological deficits related to learning and behavior in children. Chronic lead exposure has been associated with anemia, hypertension, kidney problems, neuropathy, and adverse reproductive effects in adults.
If you are concerned about exposure to lead, speak to your doctor.
Lead testing in schools
Schools and child care centres are required to flush and sample for lead under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 (external link). Public Health receives reports of lead levels above the Ontario Drinking Water Standard of 10 µg/L and communicates with the facility representative to ensure appropriate corrective actions are carried out.
If you have questions about water quality in Halton schools, please contact the Halton District School Board (HDSB) (external link), the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) (external link) or your private school board.