In Canada, we are lucky enough to have access to bountiful resources of clean, fresh water at our door step, however the quality of the water we ingest doesn’t depend solely on the source. Toronto’s water infrastructure is dated, with a large percentage of public and residential pipes having been constructed out of lead piping prior to 1950. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), lead in drinking water has been shown to have significant neurological and physiological effects, with the greatest impact being upon pregnant women and children under six years old.

In 2011 the Toronto City Council initiated the Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy (found here) to help reduce lead in drinking water. This new strategy will continue the ongoing campaign to replace the City-owned portion of lead pipes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). What this means for homeowners in the GTA depends on the age of your home, your location and your income level.

Lead Pipes in Ontario

Before the mid-1950’s in Ontario, the water service pipe that delivers water from the street into each residential home was typically made out of lead. Up until 1990, lead was also used to solder pipes together and can be found in leaded-brass fixtures such as faucets and valves.

While passing through these pipes and fixtures, lead can be added to your drinking water as it reaches your home, putting you and your family at risk.The Toronto Water Regulated Lead Sampling Program found that between June and October 2009, 18% of private residential plumbing tested above provincially regulated safe levels for lead.

What You’re Responsible For

The City of Toronto’s water pipes deliver water to each residence from a larger watermain underneath your street. Your water pipe is divided in to two sections: the city-owned section leading from the public watermain to your property line and your private pipe that runs from your property line in to your home. What this means is that you are responsible for the section of the pipe that runs from your home to your property line, and the rest is owned and maintained by the City of Toronto.

While the City of Toronto has begun to replace the city-owned portion of lead pipes, the remainder of lead pipes leading in to resident’s homes will not be covered. What this means is that residences and businesses constructed prior to 1950 are left with thousands of dollars of water service repairs for the privately-owned section of their piping, at the owner’s own expense. If you suspect that your house uses lead piping, the City of Toronto will only replace half of your piping which puts your family at risk of lead seeping in to your drinking water.

How to Protect Your Family

If you are concerned about the quality of your family’s drinking water or contamination from your piping, the quickest and most cost-effective way to purify all the water within your home is by using a whole-home water treatment or softening system. Water filtration and softening systems filter out chemical impurities in your water, addressing specific water quality concerns such as lead or bacterial contamination. For specific drinking water filtration, smaller reverse osmosis filtration systems can be installed under your sink to provide clean drinking water safely from the source in your kitchen or washroom.

With Toronto’s lead pipe replacement program leaving homeowners vulnerable to costly repairs and lengthy replacement times, installing a water filtration device in your home offers the first line of defense against lead in your drinking water. To find out more about how a water filtration system can help keep your family safe, contact an EcoLife representative today and put the Eco back in your water!

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