Lead screening in city fountains

Last updated June 30, 2022
Reading time: 2 min

There’s been a lot of information about lead service lines in people’s homes. But what about water fountains in city parks and municipal buildings? Just like residential buildings, there is a vast lead screening campaign underway for these facilities.

Lead in drinking water is a major concern for the city. In order to preserve the well-being of its population, the city has developed a screening protocol for water fountains in parks and municipal buildings, in partnership with the NSERC Industrial Chair on Drinking Water at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. As each water fountain is unique, they will all be screened.

Responsibility for screening water fountains is shared between the boroughs (park fountains) and the Service de la gestion et de la planification immobilière (fountains in municipal buildings).

Water fountains and lead

Montréal’s municipal drinking water is of excellent quality. However, it is possible that some fountains are connected to the municipal waterworks network through a lead water service line and/or are composed of internal plumbing with lead alloys. Lead can then dissolve into the water, especially after long periods of stagnation. It is likely that after results from screening are known, some water fountains may be closed due to lead in the plumbing. 

The Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal (DRSP) considers that the health risks of lead from water fountains in Montréal’s parks is very low and is not a public health threat. It is safe to drink water from city water fountains.

Replacing fountains that screen positive for lead

Since the health risk is low and does not represent a public health threat, according to the DRSP, but access to drinking water is an important issue for vulnerable populations (children under age four, seniors, people with chronic illnesses or mental health issues), work will be done as quickly as possible to replace lead plumbing or water service lines, while considering which mitigation measures could be applied short term.  

Replacing water fountains with lead or lead alloy plumbing or that are connected to lead service lines is the best way to reduce residents’ exposure to water.

Lead in water is a major concern for the city. In order to preserve the well-being of its population, the city has developed a screening protocol for water fountains in parks and municipal buildings, in partnership with the NSERC Industrial Chair on Drinking Water at the École Polytechnique de Montréal. As each water fountain is unique, they will all be screened.

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