Contamination of water by lead

Lead in drinking water comes mainly from the breakdown of lead in pipes, especially service lines or connections between homes and the municipal supply system.

Municipalities are responsible for the public portion between the municipal water system and the home, while homeowners are responsible for the private portion.

Lead service lines were typically installed in single-family homes and buildings with fewer than 8 dwellings, particularly during the 1940s through 1955 and even into the 1970s. Solder in a building’s internal plumbing can also be a source of lead in water.

In Montreal, an interactive map allows Montrealers to check whether a lead valve is present in their home: Map of lead service lines.


Health risks

Drinking water that contains lead, even for a short period, can pose a health risk.

Source: Water Talk - Lead in drinking water

Various measures are available to reduce lead exposure. Replacing lead service entrances is the most effective and durable solution. In 2019, the City of Montréal revised its action plan to eliminate all lead service lines located on its territory by 2030.

Starting in 2021, when the City replaces lead service lines on public property, if the private portion is still made of lead, the City will replace it at the same time as the public portion, at the owners’ expense.

Sellers may have received a notice to this effect from the City.

Lead service lines are not limited to the City of Montréal; they are found in many Québec municipalities.

When a broker represents a client for the purchase or sale of an immovable built before 1970 and has doubts about the presence of lead pipes in the property, he must inform the building inspector.

Verifications can also be made with the municipality. For example, the City of Montréal offers an interactive map indicating the potential presence (or absence) of a lead service entrance: How to recognize a lead water service line.

Last updated on: November 29, 2021
Reference number: 208806