Montréal would like to reduce the population’s lead exposure to a minimum. The city has undertaken a vast replacement project to replace all lead water service lines. As an owner, it is your responsibility to change the private portion of your home’s lead service line. Get explanations.
Are you an owner or tenant and would like to find out more about replacing lead water service lines? Here are some answers to your questions about responsibilities, fees and managing liability.
What you need to know
It is now required to replace the private portion of water service lines that are made of lead. When the public portion of lead service lines are scheduled to be replaced, if the private portion is still made of lead, the city will replace it at the owner’s expense.
Who replaces what?
Public portion: From the water main to the property line
This portion is replaced by the city at no cost to the owner when the city rebuilds or repairs water mains or roads in the same area.
Private portion: From the property line to the indoor shutoff valve
Since 2021, under the by-law concerning connections to the waterworks and sewer systems and storm water management (20-030), when work to replace lead service lines on public property has been planned, the city will replace the private portion at the same time if it is made of lead or composed of non-compliant material that is or has been in contact with lead.
As an owner, you also have the option to have a contractor of your choice perform the work before the city comes to work on your street. You will need to contact your borough to find out the procedure and which permits you need (such as an excavation permit). Next, you’ll need to find a contractor (it is recommended that you get a quote from three accredited contractors), choose a contractor and agree on when the work will be performed.
Replacement of the private portion of a lead service line by the city
The billable amount may vary, depending on the length of the connection and any obstacles to performing the work inside or in front of the house. The average amount estimated by the city is around $6,000.
Owners can settle their bill with the city right away or make payments over a 15-year period. The interest rates and administrative fees are set according to the city’s borrowing rate. The amount payable is tied to the building and is transferred to the next owner if the building is sold.
Things to Know
If you replace the private portion of your lead water service line before the city plans to work on your street and you would like for the city to replace the private portion sooner, you can request early replacement.
Are you planning other renovations? You could get a subsidy from the city to replace your lead service line.
It will not necessarily be less expensive to have the city perform the work, as the cost is set according to market conditions. It is also recommended that owners have the work done themselves before the city comes.
What happens if a landlord refuses to change the private portion to avoid paying for it? There are penal provisions set out in by-law 20-030 and statements of offence may be issued. Depending on the situations, individuals may be liable for fines ranging from $500 to $2,000 and corporate entities may be liable for fines ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.
Owners who refuse to coordinate with the city are still required by law to replace to private portion of their water connection. They must have the work done within 24 months of receiving a notice from the city or they will be in violation of the law.
Another situation to consider: If the city replaced the private portion before 2021 and owners have not yet replaced the private portion, they must have the work done themselves at their own expense. The city will sample water in these buildings to confirm whether there is lead in the water. A letter will be sent to owners to inform them of their obligation to replace the private portion.
What results should you expect when a lead service line has been replaced? The main source of lead will then have been eliminated. However, there are other potential sources of lead in a building. For example, plumbing and faucets could contain lead. However, the exposure to lead caused by these components is lower than the exposure caused by lead service lines. Letting tap water run until it is cold is an effective way to remove lead from these components.