Drinking water and lead

Get The Lead Out - Find out if you home has a lead water service.

Guelph has some of the best drinking water in the world. More than 28,000 tests are completed each year on our water samples to ensure Guelph water continues to meet or exceed the provincial drinking water quality standards.

Drinking water standards are established by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and are based on medical research and consultation with Heath Canada. Testing of Guelph’s water supply and distribution system shows average levels of lead well within the safe drinking water quality standard, which is 10 micrograms per litre (10 parts per billion).

However, if your house was built prior to the mid-1950s, the presence of lead in household plumbing, fixtures, and water service lines that supply water to the tap, creates an opportunity for lead to leach into your drinking water.

Do you have a lead water service?

Guelph’s municipal drinking water is delivered to customers from a municipal watermain in the street, which then connects to small underground pipes known as water service lines. These water service lines deliver treated water into the home.

In efforts to locate remaining lead services, the City of Guelph Water Services conducts verification visits where licensed City operators will visually inspect the water service and take a water sample from your tap to determine if any part of the water service is lead. There is no cost for this visit and it will only take a few minutes of your time.

Please note: Even if your internal plumbing is not lead, unseen portions of the underground pipe can be.

Book your water service verification visit by contacting Guelph Water Services at 519-822-1260 x 2263 or leadtesting@guelph.ca.

Are you in the lead zone?

The map below indicates potential lead service areas in Guelph.

If your home or business is located in the shaded area, contact Guelph Water Services at 519-822-1260 x 2263 or email leadtesting@guelph.ca to arrange an appointment.

If lead is discovered, the City of Guelph will replace the service line from the watermain up to the front property line at no cost to the homeowner.

What are the health effects of lead?

Lead intake is linked to certain health issues, including damage to the kidneys and liver. It is also linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in excessive quantities. Other concerns include risk of seizures, behavioural disorders and memory problems due to the effect on the brain and nerves. These health risks are usually associated with levels of lead much higher than those often found in drinking water.

Who is most at risk?

Children six years of age and younger. Younger children have small body masses, high metabolic rates, and are still developing – therefore they more sensitive to the neurological and blood effects of lead. Children also in general absorb lead more easily than adults.

Particular recommendations are made for formula-fed infants because the water used to make the formula can contribute up to 40 to 60 per cent of an infant’s lead intake. Drinking water for older children and adults contributes approximately 10 per cent of total lead intake.

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy are also at risk as pregnant women can pass lead in their blood to the developing baby during pregnancy. Lead levels for pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should be kept as low as possible.

To ensure customer safety, Water Services continues to monitor for the presence of lead in the water supply and distribution system as well as in customer tap water following replacement and works closely with the Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin Public Health Unit.

Where can I get more information?

Some of the above information has been copied and adapted from Health Canada and municipal web sites from the following communities: Ottawa, Montreal, and London.