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City lead water service replacement loan program continues

By CJ Goater Mar 5, 2024 | 12:13 PM

Thunder Bay City Hall Sign - Acadia Broadcasting Files

If you have private lead service pipes from the city’s water main, you still have an opportunity to receive assistance in replacing them.

City council has received an update on the city’s lead service pipe loan program.

The program is set to continue as there are still enough funds to operate it without making adjustments.

In 2020, the program was established to assist property owners with the removal of privately owned lead service connections.

The city put aside money in a loan envelope for the program and there is still a remaining balance of $1,160,100 with an additional $20,000 budgeted for grants.

When utilizing the program you receive a five-year interest-free loan, to reduce the immediate financial impact of making the change.

“It is a lot of money for people up front, the cost of five thousand dollars, but just pushing that we do have this loan available,” said the Director of Environment at the City of Thunder Bay, Michelle Warywoda. “The monthly payment ends up being around just over $80 a month.”

Prior to the mid-1950s, many water service connections installed were made of lead.

When water sits in lead water pipes the lead leaches into the drinking water, posing a health risk if too much is consumed.

To reduce lead exposure these lead pipes need to be replaced.

Publicly owned lead service connections, the pipe from the water main to the property line are replaced through planned capital infrastructure projects, emergency repairs, and the Priority Lead Service Replacement Program.

Privately owned lead service connections, the pipe from your property line to the water meter are the property owner’s responsibility and are replaced at the property owner’s discretion.

Although property owners are encouraged to replace their lead service connections when the public portions are being renewed, private lead services are often not replaced.

Homeowners will be notified when the city plans on doing water main work by their home if they still have a lead service connection.

The city also has a lead-reducing filter program.  Properties that have been identified with a known lead service pipe will receive a Brita with a total of two water filters which equals a 12-month supply for an average household.

If you recently purchased your home, and are unsure if you may have a lead service pipe you can contact city dispatch to find out.