LEAD WATER SERVICES
Lead is a cumulative neurotoxin, with fetuses, infants, children up to six years of age and pregnant women (because of their fetuses) being most susceptible to adverse health effects. For more information on the health risks associated with lead, please visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit website.
The water that flows through the water mains under London's streets contains virtually no lead; but water can pick up lead if it flows through a lead water service. Water services are the pipes that bring water into each house and business – from the water mains that run under the streets to the water meters in each building. The public portion of the water service pipe runs from the water main to the property line that separates public property from private property. The private portion runs from the property line into each building.
Before 1953, service pipes were made of lead or copper. After 1952, only copper was used; whereas plastic is predominantly used for water service pipes today. If your house was built after 1952, there is no cause for concern about lead in the water.
The amount of lead that is picked up as water travels through a lead service depends upon the corrosiveness of the water. Different sources of water have different levels of corrosiveness, which are largely dependent upon the pH of the water, and its natural mineral concentrations. London’s water comes from Lakes Huron and Erie, which is relatively non-corrosive. Our water treatment processes guard against pH reduction which could result in more corrosive water.
The City of London offers free lead testing of tap water for Londoners who live in older homes. More than 12,000 London homes have been tested so far. If you live in an older home that hasn’t been tested, or if you aren’t sure if your water has been tested, we encourage you to call us at 519-661-4739 to arrange for a test.
If you have a lead water service, the best way to reduce your lead exposure is to replace the service pipe. The City of London replaces the public portion of about 450 lead services each year, mostly through water main replacement projects. The portion of the service on private property belongs to the homeowner – it is part of the household plumbing. Homeowners are encouraged to hire a contractor replace the private portion of their lead water service if the City is replacing the public portion.
If the City isn’t replacing the water main, homeowners can initiate a lead service replacement by hiring a contractor to replace the private portion of the service. The City of London will then complete the process by replacing the public portion at no cost to the homeowner.