Many Canadian cities still use lead pipes to bring water to homes , schools ,and businesses. Flint failed to treat it’s water with corrosion inhibitors, so it’s pipes started leaching lead into the water. This public health tragedy serves as a wake up call to governments, public health authorities, and municipalities.
Flint water crisis:
Lead has been used for most of the 20th century for service pipes, solders, and faucets because of it’s malleability or ease of use. Science found out it was toxic to us. Montreal reports that many houses built before 1970 could have lead service lines. Toronto had lead service pipes in use before the mid 1950’s. The cost of replacement is huge…and the cost of replacing the pipe from the home to the street is the home owners cost. ($1,000-$6,000 per household). Toronto has been changing city owned infrastructure street by street, approx half the lead pipes have been changed over the last several years.
Canadian researchers have been studying the short and long term impact of partial lead line service replacements on lead released into drinking water. The research shows that the number of lead service lines varies across our municipalities…and it is noted how unsuccessful current initiatives. Critical is the financial and logistical support municipalities supply to consumers to ensure pipes on municipal land and private land are replaced at the same time. Importantly high levels of lead can appear in the drinking water right after pipe replacement. This is due to the lead on the pipes getting jostled around and get flushed down the pipe to the home as the water service is restored.
Health Canada is set to release a new guideline for lead in drinking water later this year. Stay tuned, with Flint still ongoing there should be more pressure from the feds to make sure we don’t experience the same situation here.
GR May reduce lead pipe replacement.