How to replace your lead service line
1. Find a contractor
If you are ready to have your private portion of the service line replaced, you can hire any qualified contractor to do the work. If the public portion has not been replaced, you can hire one of the following contractors to do both at the same time:
- C.R. Falkenham Backhoe Service Ltd.: 902.456.0277
- G&R Kelly: 902.835.3125
- Sackville Trenching: 902.865.8335
The contractors listed above are the only contractors who have permission to replace public portions of the service line. You may choose to use another contractor capable of and insured to complete a lead service line replacement. If you choose to use a contractor other than those listed above Halifax Water will, if necessary, renew the public side of your lead service line following the private renewal. Halifax Water always recommends getting multiple quotes from contractors to ensure you are having the work done at a reasonable cost.
2. Obtain a permit
Regardless of which option you choose for hiring a contractor, you are required to fill out and submit a New Services and Renewal Application [PDF] to Halifax Water.
Ensuring you have the proper applications and permits in place helps protect you and your property, and is required for all renewals or work being done to your service line on your property.
3. Schedule an inspection
All service line replacements must be inspected and approved by Halifax Water, inspection for lead service line renewals are free of charge.
Inspections must be done prior to covering the new line (backfilling). To avoid delays, it is recommended that you contact Halifax Water at 902.420.9287 once you have confirmed the date of the service renewal with your contractor.
Once inspection has been passed, Halifax Water will begin the process of scheduling the public portion for replacement when only the private portion of a lead service line was renewed by a contractor not permitted to complete both portions of the renewal.
4. Minimize lead exposure following a lead service line replacement
Halifax Water recommends households adhere to the following timeline and flushing instructions to help reduce exposure to lead in drinking water following a lead service line replacement:
I. Immediately after construction
Flush your plumbing system for 60 minutes by opening your cold water taps and letting them run, one at a time. Start in the basement and work up towards the top level in your home. Remove aerators and any faucet attachments (such as filters, or spray nasals) from any taps you are flushing before you start the flushing process. This will help remove any lead particles or sediment dislodged during construction. An Aerator is the small attachment found at the end of most taps, they help to increase water pressure at the tap while also helping to conserve water. Aerators can generally be removed by gently twisting counterclockwise. The average cost of flushing a home using this method will be less than $2.
Do not open hot water faucets until the plumbing system is completely flushed. Hot water can be used once flushing is complete
Clean all faucet aerators prior to reinstalling as lead particles and sediment can build up in the screen.
II. For 30 days after construction
Each day, flush your plumbing by removing the aerator or any faucet attachments (such as filters, or spray nasals) and opening at least one cold water faucet for 10 minutes. Flushing can also be achieved by running appliances such as your dishwasher or washing machine, flushing toilets, taking showers, and watering gardens; if you choose to flush this way you should also flush the tap you use for drinking and cooking for a few minutes prior to use. Water used for this amount of flushing will cost around $0.08.
Clean all faucet aerators prior to reinstalling as lead particles and sediment can build up in the screen.
III. For six months after construction
Use cold tap water for cooking and drinking. Hot tap water can cause a greater release of lead from plumbing. Boiling water does not remove lead.
If water has not been used for more than six hours (i.e., overnight or during work hours), flush the cold water tap after removing the aerator or any faucet attachments (such as filters, or spray nasals) for five minutes prior to drinking and cooking.
Periodically remove and clean all faucet aerators/screens as lead particles and sediment can build up in the screen.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have children under the age of six, it is recommended that you use a household water filter that is certified to remove lead from drinking water at the tap. Please ensure the filtration device is certified to NSF 53 international standards for drinking water and is additionally certified for the removal of lead. The NSF organization maintains a comprehensive list of NSF 53 certified products that can be searched by their additional lead reduction certification.
5. Apply for the Lead Service Line Replacement Rebate
To help homeowners with the cost of replacement, Halifax Water now offers a 25% rebate, up to $2,500 of the cost to replace your lead water line.
In order to be eligible for the rebate you must complete the following:
- Apply for your permit after August 22, 2017; and
- Have a Private Lead Service Line renewed; and
- Have an inspection of the new line completed by Halifax Water prior to infill; and
- Provide an invoice attached from the contractor; and
- Provide a completed Rebate Application Form [PDF].
The rebate is calculated based on the homeowners cost for renewal, including reinstatement back to previous state. Halifax Water does not pay for new driveways, landscaping, or decks, only to return them to the state they were prior to the renewal.
The homeowner is responsible for the payment of the bill owed to the contractor in full. The rebate will be given by check to the homeowner once we have received confirmation that the final inspection has been completed, a completed Rebate Application Form [PDF] and invoice has been received and reviewed.
Anyone who has had a portion of, or their entire service line replaced, is encouraged to participate in a comprehensive sampling program coordinated between Halifax Water and Dalhousie University. This program monitors lead levels prior to and after a lead service line replacement. Samples are taken prior to renewal and following renewal at 72 hours and at 1, 3, and 6 months, as described below.
For more information please email Lead@halifaxwater.ca
Ongoing Research and Monitoring Programs
- Lead Service Line Replacement Monitoring program
After a lead service line replacement, you may see an increase in lead levels in your water. This is a result of pipes being disturbed during construction. The exact length of this disturbance varies from home to home based on multiple factors including household water usage, service length, and flushing practices to name a few. Typically the lead increase is highest in the days to weeks following the renewal, and then drops off in three to six months. The best way to know the lead levels in your home following a replacement is to participate in the monitoring program.
Anyone who has had a portion of, or their entire service line replaced, is encouraged to participate in this free comprehensive sampling program coordinated between Halifax Water and Dalhousie University. This program monitors lead levels prior to and after a lead service line replacement Samples are taken prior to renewal and following renewal at 72 hours and at 1, 3, and 6 months.
If you are interested in participating in this program, contact Halifax Water several days prior to your replacement at firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-420-9287.
- Residential Monitoring Program
Halifax Water conducts an annual residential sampling program to monitor lead and copper levels in customers’ homes throughout the distribution system. Once per year, 100 homes are tested on a volunteer basis. Samples are collected during the warmest months, typically in August, and submitted to a third party lab for analysis. Each year we ask anyone interested in joining the program to e-mail email@example.com.Halifax Water encourages customers who have participated in the past to continue their annual sampling efforts to aid Halifax Water in developing a comprehensive data set. If your home is supplied by Halifax Water you may be eligible to participate in the sampling program. Due to the nature of this program, we can only facilitate testing in single unit dwellings or in duplexes serviced by their own service lateral. If you are interested in participating in this program or to find out if you are eligible simply call 902.420.9287 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the annual sampling program, Halifax Water provides complimentary lead testing for customers who have a known or suspected lead service line, and who live in a house built prior to 1960 within the lead service boundary. If you are interested in having your water tested, please email Lead@halifaxwater.ca to discuss eligibility and to arrange for a sampling kit to be dropped off if eligible. The sampling is completed by the tenant/landlord/homeowner, and the sample kit includes 5 one-liter sample bottles, sampling instructions and protocol which require no water use for any purpose for at least 6-hrs. Samples are analyzed by a third party lab for analysis. Results will be sent to you once they are available. If you have any questions regarding your results, please email Lead@halifaxwater.ca and we would be happy to help you interpret them.
- Corrosion Control Program
Corrosion of lead and other metals occurs from the reaction of water with metal surfaces of the pipes in the water distribution network. Halifax Water uses zinc-orthophosphate as a corrosion inhibitor to minimize the corrosion of lead and other metals in the distribution network. Inhibitors work by producing a protective layer over pipes throughout the water distribution network, which prevents the water from attacking the metal surface.
Corrosion inhibitors are added at the treatment plant and must meet American Water Works Association standards and NSF/ANSI Standard 60, which is a standard for additives to drinking water. Halifax Water monitors the corrosion inhibitor concentration in the treated water leaving the treatment plants on a daily basis to ensure that the target levels of the inhibitor are being achieved at all times. In addition, corrosion inhibitor concentrations are measured throughout the water distribution network monthly.
Halifax Water is constantly reviewing new corrosion science and studying the effectiveness of the corrosion inhibitor through a research partnership with Dalhousie University and with the periodic hiring of consultants.
- Collaborative Research Programs with Dalhousie
Halifax Water is in partnership with Dalhousie University through an NSERC IRC in Water Quality and Treatment. The lead corrosion portion of this partnership has led to a better understanding of lead release in Halifax and in turn has informed changes to Halifax Water’s corrosion control practices and has kept Halifax Water at the forefront of the water industry with respect to managing lead in the distribution system.