Lead Research & Monitoring Programs

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Halifax Water has several lead sampling and monitoring programs available to residential customers who qualify. If you would like to participate in any of the following programs, or if you have questions, please call our Customer Care Centre at 902-420-9287.

Halifax Water also has a corrosion control program that involves treating water at the water supply plants so that lead corrosion is minimized. There are monitoring and research programs in place to monitor the effectiveness of, and to continually improve, the corrosion control program.

Impact of COVID-19 on Lead Sampling Programs

In an effort to protect the health of the public and our employees, Halifax Water will not be issuing or retrieving/accepting any lead sampling kits for the duration of the COVID-19 response. If you are interested in a lead sampling kit, please send us an email that includes your address, and we will add you to a list for sample kit distribution once we return to normal operations. As always, our dedicated Water Quality staff are available to address any questions related to drinking water quality and lead and can be reached directly at lead@halifaxwater.ca or through Halifax Water’s Customer Care Centre at 902-420-9287

Proposed Enhancements to Halifax Water's Lead Service Line Replacement Program

The Halifax Water Board has approved a proposal to replace all lead service lines at utility expense. However, Halifax Water will not have the authority to implement such a program until it is approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. Halifax Water does not anticipate a decision from the NSUARB before September of 2020. If approval is received, the exact nature of the approved program and the effective date are within the discretion of the NSUARB. Based on past experience, it is unlikely that any approval effective date will be retroactive.

The enhanced program is designed to be executed over a twenty-year period. Scheduling of lead service line replacements over the life of the program will be determined in a manner that both addresses public health to the highest degree possible while maximizing Halifax Water's ability to replace as many lead service lines as possible in a given season. For these reasons, Halifax Water has proposed to proceed on a street by street basis in coordination with HRM's paving program, and other capital programs.

Homeowner Request Lead Sampling

Halifax Water provides complimentary lead testing for homeowners 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 contact us 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. The sample kit includes five one-liter sample bottles and sampling instructions. Samples are analyzed by a third party lab. Results will be sent to you once they are available. If you have any questions regarding your results, please contact us and we would be happy to help you interpret them.

Lead Service Line Replacement Monitoring Program

After a lead service line replacement, you may see an increase in lead levels in your home for a period of time after construction. 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 line length, and flushing practices.

Typically the lead increase is highest in the days to weeks following the replacement, 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 replacement and following replacement 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.

Annual Residential Monitoring Program

Halifax Water conducts an annual residential sampling program to monitor the effectiveness of the corrosion control program by sampling 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 contact us.

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, contact us to find out if you are eligible.

Corrosion Control Monitoring 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 National Sanitation Foundation/ American National Standards Institute 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 and other relevant water quality parameters are measured throughout the water distribution network monthly to ensure effectiveness of corrosion control treatment.

Collaborative Research Programs with Dalhousie University and Industry Experts

Halifax Water is constantly reviewing new corrosion science and studying the effectiveness of the corrosion inhibitor through a research partnership with Dalhousie University and other industry experts.

These partnerships have provided a better understanding of lead release in Halifax, 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.