Financial help coming for homeowners to remove lead pipes

Lead pipe removal incentive program to be offered to residents of Greater Sudbury in third quarter of the year

In an effort to remove a financial barrier to public health, the city is launching a lead pipe disposal incentive program in the third quarter of this year.

Although the city removes the few lead pipes it discovers underground as soon as they are discovered, the private side of the equation belongs to homeowners who often do not replace their lead pipes with a safer material.

Lead was considered an acceptable material in pipes until 1975, and was deemed safe in solder until 1990, according to a report by city water and wastewater professional Cheryl Beam presented on city council last year.

Lead toxicity is now known to cause “reduced cognition, increased blood pressure, and kidney dysfunction in adults, as well as neurodevelopmental and behavioral effects in children, including reductions in intelligence quotient scores. (IQ),” the report said, noting that there are no safe levels. lead.

“At this point, we haven’t had a record-keeping system that can quantify how many core services are currently still in place on the private side,” Beam said, adding that despite this, there doesn’t appear to be a ” major problem”.

Despite this, the incentive scheme, which was unanimously approved by City Council during 2022 budget deliberations last month, is working to help remove remaining lead pipes on private properties that pump water. drinking water to Sudburians.

The program will include a grant of up to $3,000 for the replacement of private services, a loan of up to $10,000 repayable over 10 years and an option for owners to benefit from these two incentives.

The city will also provide certified water filters to those most at risk of lead exposure, including children six and under and pregnant and breastfeeding women, to remove lead until their pipes are clean. water can be replaced.

The total annual municipal cost of these efforts is approximately $150,000.

Meanwhile, Beam said water tests conducted on the city side of the water system consistently measure “lower magnitudes” than Health Canada’s limit for lead, which is five parts per billion. , and that between zero and five lead pipes are discovered on the public side each year.

When lead pipes are discovered during repairs or capital works, they are replaced as soon as possible on the city side. When City staff discover lead pipes on the private side, either in the basement or during water readings, the owner is notified.

The city also maintains a regular corrosion control program which includes the introduction of a polyphosphate chemical into the city’s water distribution system to aid in corrosion control.

People concerned about potential lead in their water supply can usually request voluntary water sampling in the city, although Beam said the program has been postponed due to pandemic concerns and is “a bit of a moving target” at the moment.

Local commercial labs can also perform water testing.

“As a city, we always recommend contacting a plumber who can check this out for you if you have any doubts,” Beam said.

Those with confirmed lead pipes are encouraged to run their water for about five minutes before using them in order to flush them out, especially during times like mornings when water has sat in the pipes for a long time.

People should also buy NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified plumbing fixtures.

“We have had instances in our voluntary lead testing program where there have been high lead sample results that are actually the result of people using high lead fixtures,” Beam said. .

“Once we met a person who had bought a high-lead plumbing fixture, and when she changed it, it was no longer a problem.

Water filters that people use either in carafes or attached to the faucet must also be NSF certified, Beam added.

While lead is a concern in some households, Beam said residents can rest assured that it’s not a widespread problem and that the municipal side of the city’s water system remains well. below Health Canada’s threshold for lead.

The incentive program, she said, aims to “make sure no one falls through the cracks.”

The city plans to contact local media with details on the lead pipe removal program as it becomes available.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.

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