Why replace lead service lines?

Last updated July 10, 2023
Reading time: 2 min

Some buildings with eight dwellings or fewer that were built before 1970 have water service lines. Lead could dissolve into the water, which could impact people’s health if they drink it. This is why the city is replacing lead service lines between May and October.

Public and private portions

Montréal has excellent drinking water quality. However, when it comes into contact with lead plumbing, lead can dissolve into the water. The best way to reduce the exposure to lead in the water is to replace water service lines that are made of lead.

Work must be done on both the public portion (which belongs to the city) and the private portion (which belongs to the property owner).

When will lead service lines be replaced?

The city is replacing lead service lines at the same time as other work requiring excavations, such as waterworks repairs.

If, when we perform certain work, the private portion of the service line (the part that belongs to the owner) is still made of lead, it will be replaced at the same time as the public portion by the city’s contractor, in accordance with article 58 du By-law concerning connections to the waterworks and sewer systems and storm water management (20-030) (In french). 

All owners with lead service lines will be contacted to inform them of their obligations as well as planned work.

What to expect?


You will receive a notification to inform you that a screener will be visiting to test your water. To determine whether the water service line is made of lead, the screener must have access to a dwelling in your building. The screening operation is held from June to October each year.

Pitcher distribution

If the screening result is positive, all households in the building will be informed of the process to request a free filtration device that includes a pitcher and five filters. Thereafter, each household must buy the additional filters in shops or online.


The address of the building is added to plans for the work that will be performed. In order to plan and carry out the inspection, the owners receive a letter. This inspection is necessary to ascertain the material of the water service line on the visible part of the private portion, as well as its location and accessibility.


Landlords and tenants receive communications to let them know when the city will complete the work. Homeowners can carry out the work on the private portion of the water service line with the contractor of their choice before the city arrives on their street or wait for municipal teams to perform the work. The city charges the owner for the replacement of the service line.

Health impacts

The Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal considers that the health risks of lead in water are low. To learn more, visit the Santé Montréal Web site.