Replacing your water service line is your responsibility

Last updated July 14, 2022
Reading time: 3 min

Would you like to find out about the replacement of lead service lines? We have answers for you about responsibilities, costs and litigation management.

What you need to know

The city would like to minimize residents’ exposure to lead and has implemented a major action plan to eliminate lead water service lines within city limits. Replacing the private portion of your service line, if it is made of lead, is now required. When the city plans work to replace lead service lines on public property, the city also replaces the private portion at the same time at the owner’s expense.

Public portion: From the water main to the property line

This section is replaced by the city at no charge to the owner, usually when the road is being rebuilt or work is being done to repair and/or rebuild water lines.

Private section: From the property line to the indoor shut-off valve

Since 2021, under the By-law concerning connections to the waterworks and sewer systems and storm water management, when replacement work for lead service lines on public property is scheduled, the city will also replace the private portion if it is made of lead or is made of another non-compliant material that is or has been in contact with lead. 

As an owner, you can also have the contractor of your choice perform this work before the city arrives on your street. You’ll need to contact your borough, which will tell you what to do and which permit you need (such as an excavation permit). You can then get quotes from three contractors (preferably accredited contractors) and have the work done at your convenience. It is recommended to have your service line replaced before the city arrives.

If you replace the private portion of your lead service line before the city comes to replace the public portion and you’d like for the city to do its part more quickly, you can apply for anticipated replacement.

Billing

Cost

When the city changes the private portion of a lead service line, the amount billed varies according to market conditions, the length of the piping and any obstructions to the work inside or in front of your home. The number of linear metres of piping to be replaced is measured from the outside of the foundation wall to the property line. The average amount estimated by the city for the work it performs is between $1,000 and $1,200 per linear metre replaced, including administrative costs.

Payment

The owner will invoice the building owner the year after the service line is replaced. Owners can pay their invoice as soon as they receive it or pay instalments to the city over a 15-year period.  

If the payment is made in one instalment, no interest fees will be added. However, if the invoice is not paid in full by the deadline, the total cost will be automatically transferred to the owner’s tax bill for a fixed term of 15 years. 

If the payment is spread out over 15 years, the interest rate is set according to the city’s borrowing rate and is calculated beginning January 1 of the billing year. The amount is associated with the building and will be transferred to the next owner if the building is sold.

Financial assistance

Are you planning other types of renovation work? You could get a subsidy from the city to replace your lead service line.

Litigation management

Has your landlord refused to change the private portion of your service line? He or she is legally obligated to replace the private portion of the building’s service line within 24 months of receiving the city’s notice of non-compliance or risk being found in violation. 

Penal provisions are set out in by-law 20-030 and statements of offence will be issued. Depending on the situation, individuals could be fined between $500 and $2,000, while companies could be fined between $1,000 and $4,000.

What next?

What results should be expected after a lead service line is replaced? The main source of lead will have been eliminated. However, buildings contain other sources of lead. For example, plumbing and soldering can contain lead. However, exposure from these components is not as strong as exposure from a water service line. If you are in this situation, you could replace these components at your own expense, or just let tap water run until it is cold to eliminate any lead that might be caused by plumbing or soldering.

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