Replacement program

Over the last 20 years, Guelph Water Services has proactively replaced more than 1,000 lead services on the City-owned portion of the water service and has encouraged private property owners to replace the privately-owned portion of the service.

If the verification visit or water sample confirms that the water service is made of lead, the City will replace the City-owned water service at no cost to the property owner.

While the homeowner is under no obligation to replace the privately-owned portion of the water service, the City highly recommends it. We will offer guidance on how to replace and discuss the potential for grant funding.

Please refer to the diagram for details about your City-owned and privately-owned water service.You may experience a temporary increase in lead levels in your water after the replacement. To flush your plumbing of lead, Water Services will flush at the water meter for 20 minutes before restoring the water to your home.

Cross section showing ownership of water pipes

You must be home for operators to do this. If you are not, you will be left instructions to call our after-hours service and an operator will come out to your home to flush and restore your water.

Following replacement, you should flush all internal plumbing fixtures which may be used for drinking or cooking water for at least 10 minutes each, before using your water. You may also wish to run an empty cycle of your dishwasher and wash the filters as well.

You should also unscrew all aerators on faucets and clean them thoroughly.

Replacement Grant Program

Get the lead out and get money back!

If lead is found in the privately-owned portion of your water service line, you are under no obligation to replace it; however, the City of Guelph strongly encourages full replacement, as we offer grants of up to $2,000 to help you manage the cost.

A free visit by a licensed City water operator and just a few minutes of your time will confirm whether or not you have a lead service line on your property. If there is lead, the City operator can walk you through the grant application process and help you determine whether you’re eligible, and the approximate amount.

Grants can range from $700 to a maximum of $2,000 depending on the length of the lead service line, and typically cover 75 to 100 percent of the cost of replacing lead pipes. For a list of eligible and ineligible expenses covered under the grant program, please review the terms and conditions in the grant application.

Who can apply?

If the City has confirmed that you have a lead service line on your property, and you meet the eligibility requirements listed below, you can apply for a grant.

You must apply for the grant prior to starting any work. Failure to do so will make you ineligible for the grant.

A limited number of grants are available. Priority will be given to households with children six years of age or younger, and pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy. Otherwise, grants will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Eligibility requirements

  1. Applicant must be the building owner, must be an individual or individuals who are not partners and must not be a corporation or partnership;
  2. Applicant must not be a commercial enterprise of any type (including a property management enterprise) and Applicant’s primary activity must not be commercial enterprise;
  3. An applicant who owns more than one rental unit must provide evidence, satisfactory to the City, that the primary activity is not a commercial enterprise.
  4. The home must be single family home, duplex, or triplex.
  5. Applicant must work in co-ordination with neighbour(s) in the case of shared services.
  6. Applicant must have no outstanding City of Guelph debt.
  7. The City must confirm that there is a lead service line on the private property.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and definitions

Why replace a lead pipes?

Guelph’s groundwater supply contains little or no naturally occurring lead. Lead can leach into tap water from lead pipes and plumbing materials containing lead. Lead in drinking water is a health concern, particularly for pregnant women, women planning a pregnancy, and children under the age of six.

Why is the City providing grants for replacing private lead pipes?

While the City is responsible for replacing all City-owned lead pipes—the portion of the pipe from the water main to the private property line, replacement of the private portion of the pipe falls is the responsibility of the property owner. This can be an expensive undertaking. The grant helps property owners by covering or reducing eligible pipe replacement costs up to $2,000. Typically a grant will cover 75 to 100 per cent of the cost of private lead pipe replacement.

Cross section showing ownership of water pipes

Is there a limit to grant availability?

A limited number of grants are available. Generally, a first–come, first–served process is followed, with priority given to households with children under the age of six, pregnant women, or women planning a pregnancy.

Should I use copper or plastic to replace my pipe?

The pipe material is your choice. However, if you choose to install a plastic water service line, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) requires that a grounding plate or ground rods be installed by a licensed electrician. An ESA permit and inspection is required for the installation. Additional costs from installing plastic water service lines, including the ESA permit, inspection and associated electrician costs, are not covered by the water service line replacement grant.

Can I apply for a grant if I have already replaced my lead water service line?

No. Property owners who have started or completed private lead water service line replacement work prior to applying to the grant program are not eligible for grant funding. The grant program is not retroactive. Grant applications must be completed before any work is started.

Does my grant approval expire?

Yes. The lead water service line replacement must be completed within one year of the date of the approval of your application. Should additional time be needed, please contact the City (Water Services) to discuss your situation and see if an extension is possible.

How do I apply for a grant?

  1. Book a free lead testing and inspection visit with the City of Guelph to confirm whether or not there are lead pipes supplying your home’s drinking water.
  2. Contact the City (Water Services) with written or verbal request to participate in the grant program, and to confirm your eligibility.
  3. Have a licensed water operator complete a pre-inspection. The operator will determine your maximum potential grant amount and provide you with the grant application form.
  4. Obtain a minimum of two contractor quotes for the water line replacement. Quotes must detail what work is to be done, and clearly separate costs for eligible and ineligible portions of the work (as per the Terms and Conditions of the grant program supplied with your application).
  5. Submit a completed and signed grant application with contractor quotes to the City (Water Services) for approval before starting any work. The City will review your application and quotes and let you know if your application is approved (written confirmation).

How do I get my grant funds?

Once your application is approved by the City, you will need to complete the work to replace your lead service line.

  1. Obtain your building permit from the City of Guelph (Building Services) before scheduling the work.
  2. Obtain locates from Ontario One Call at or by calling 1-800-400-2255 at least one week before work begins.
  3. Schedule your water turn off and turn on appointments at least two days before work begins by calling 519-837-5627 (your contractor may be able to schedule this for you).
  4. Schedule your building inspection appointment to review completed work at least two days before you begin work.
  5. Have your contractor complete the work and ensure all quoted work is done completely and to your satisfaction.
  6. Once water is turned back on as per your scheduled time with Water Services, have your contractor flush the new water line up to the water meter for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Water Services will collect a sample from the new pipe to ensure the water delivered to the water meter is safe (this does not verify or confirm the safety of any private indoor plumbing).
  8. Pay your contractor 100 per cent of the incurred costs and submit your contractor detailed invoice(s) and proof of payment to the City (Water Services). Once the City has reviewed and confirmed that work has been properly completed, the City will issue you your grant funds.

What costs are eligible under the grant program?

  • Building permit fee
  • Contractor excavation, back fill and compaction costs strictly related to the private water service line replacement
  • Contractor lead pipe removal and disposal costs
  • Cost of contractor supply and installation of new water service line and full-bore stop and drain ball valve as per the Ontario Building Code
  • Costs of all materials (copper pipe, or plastic pipe including required tracer wire)
  • Contractor drilling and patching of water service line building entry hole through foundation or basement floor
  • Provincial and Federal taxes on all eligible costs (up to the maximum grant amount)

What costs are not eligible under the grant program?

  • Support services by City staff conducted outside regular business hours (including Water Services pre-inspection, water turn-on or shut-off, flushing, sampling and meter installation)
  • Your own time and effort (labour) to complete the replacement
  • Private internal plumbing changes or renovations
  • Repair of damage to City-owned sewer, pavement, sidewalk, curbing, signage etc. as a result of the work
  • Relocation or repair to private utilities or services (e.g. other pipes, wires or telecommunications lines)
  • Restoration of any private property impacts or damages to lawns, gardens, driveways, walkways, decks, fences, etc. resulting from the work.
  • Additional costs associated with the installation of a water service line made from material other than copper (e. additional costs associated with using a plastic water service line plastic)


Water service lines: the pipes that deliver treated drinking water from the City’s water main to private property/a customer’s plumbing. The water service line includes all the pipe, valves and fittings from the water main, through the water meter, ending at the customer’s interior plumbing.

Verification program: The City of Guelph’s lead service line testing and identification home visit program.

City-owned (City-side) service line: the portion of the water service line located on City-owned property, from the water main in the street or the boulevard to the curb stop/private property line.

Private service line: the portion of the water service line located on private property, from the curb stop/property line to the customer’s interior plumbing.

Curb stop: a valve installed by the City that turns water service to a building on or off for needed work, emergencies such as indoor flooding, and in the case of a termination of service. The curb stop is often found in home driveways and is typically located at or near the property line.

Lead service line: water service lines that are entirely or partially made of lead, typically used in homes built before the mid-1950s.

Full service line replacement: replacement of both the City-owned and privately-owned portions of the water service line.

Partial service line replacement: replacement of either the publicly-owned or the privately-owned portion of the water service line; lead may remain on the portion of the water service line not replaced.

For more information

Water Services
519-822-1260 extension 2263