Lead Service Line Replacement Program Enhancements

Up-to-date information on Halifax Water's Enhanced Lead Service Line Replacement Program

Review recent updates to Halifax Water's Lead Service Line Replacement Program.

On August 27, 2020, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) approved Halifax Water’s enhanced lead service line replacement program. This program will take effect on the date the NSUARB issues an order, which is yet to be determined. The enhanced program will see Halifax Water replace the full lead service line, which includes both the public and the private section of the service line at utility’s expense. It is estimated that this enhanced program will see the removal of all lead service lines over a twenty-year period.

Scheduling of lead service line replacements will be determined in a manner that addresses public health to the highest degree while maximizing Halifax Water's ability to replace as many lead service lines as possible in a given season. The majority of replacements will be conducted on a street by street basis in coordination with HRM's paving program and other infrastructure renewal projects. A program will also be developed to replace lead services annually based on customer interest.
 
With the new lead service line replacement program taking effect at a date yet to be determined, replacements undertaken between now and the effective date of the program will be eligible for the existing 25% rebate only. Over the coming months, Halifax Water will be finalizing the details of the new enhanced program. To receive updates please fill out our e-mail notification form, here.

SIGN UP FOR PROGRAM UPDATES

Frequently Asked Questions

The enhanced Lead Service Line Replacement Program will enable Halifax Water to replace the public and private portions of the lead service line at utility expense over a period of about 20 years. Scheduling of lead service line replacements will be determined in a manner that addresses public health to the highest degree while maximizing Halifax Water's ability to replace as many lead service lines as possible in a given season. The majority of replacements will be conducted on a street by street basis in coordination with HRM's paving program and other infrastructure renewal projects. A program will also be developed to replace lead services annually based on customer interest through a risk prioritization process.

The effective/start date for the enhanced lead service line replacement program has yet to be determined. Replacements undertaken between now and the effective date of the program will be eligible for the existing 25% rebate only. Over the coming months, Halifax Water will be finalizing the details of the new enhanced program. To receive updates, please fill out our e-mail notification form, here.

Customers who have replaced their lead service lines under Halifax Water's current Lead Service Line Replacement Program are eligible to receive a rebate to cover 25% of the cost of the replacement up to $2,500.00. The enhanced Lead Service Line Replacement Program's effective date has yet to be determined by the NSUARB. Lead service lines replaced before the effective date of the enhancement program will remain eligible for the current rebate program and can not retroactively apply to the enhanced Lead Service Line Replace Program.   

With the enhanced program, the majority of lead service line replacements will be conducted in conjunction with HRM paving projects. With the timeline of the enhanced program being 20 years, this means some services may not be renewed for many years.  Customers are still eligible to pursue replacement of their service if they do not want to wait, and they will be eligible for a 25% rebate up to $2,500.

Halifax Water has had a Lead Service Line Replacement program since the 1970's. The program has evolved based on industry best practices and research outcomes. Some of the main components of the program that have changed in the last decade include:

  • Implementing a free lead sampling program for customers with known or suspected lead service lines and a lead sampling program to monitor lead levels post replacement (2010).
  • Abandoning the practice of completing partial lead service line replacements (replacing only the private or the public portion and leaving the other portion as lead)  as research has shown that partial replacements can in fact increase lead concentrations post replacement (2012),
  • Developing a program to distribute pitcher style filters to decrease lead exposure during and post-replacement (2016),
  • Selecting pre-approved contractors who are able to conduct work on both the public and private portion of the service line so that customers can have the entire line replaced as one job to minimize lead exposure (2016), and
  • Implementing financial assistance programs such as the lateral loan (2018) and 25% lead service line rebate (2017).

Even with the 25% rebate, uptake in the program has not been as high as expected. Because Halifax Water will not conduct partial replacements for public safety reasons, the rate of replacement of the public portion has also been low. Because of this, the timeline of the program is not within Halifax Water's control, and at the current replacement rate, it will take many decades to remove all lead service lines.   

Based on lessons learned from the existing program, combined with a need to increase uptake in lead service line renewal, and through surveying other utilities and learning from best practice, Halifax Water developed and presented a proposal for an enhanced program to the Halifax Water Board in November 2019. This proposal included conducting full lead service line replacement at the utility's expense through several programs that would maximize the use of resources while also maximizing the public health benefit.

The rationale behind the latest enhancement of fully funding the cost of a full lead service line replacement consists of,

  • Accelerating the timeline to remove all lead service lines in HRM,
  • Protecting public health to the greatest degree possible, and
  • ensuring that lead service line replacements are accessible to all Halifax Water customers.

The enhancements to the Lead Service Line Replacement Program equip Halifax Water with the authority to conduct full lead service line replacement, which includes both the public and the private portions at utility expense. This is consistent with an emerging direction of many leading utilities in the US and Canada and, of the options available, is the most protective of public health. While Halifax Water has the ability to replace both the public and private lead service line, the property owner must give permission to Halifax Water to work on their private property.

In order to maximize resources to provide maximum public health benefit, the majority of lead service line replacements will be in conjunction with paving projects through the Halifax Regional Municipality and through capital water and wastewater asset improvement programs.   

Children under 6 are the most susceptible to impacts from lead exposure, and to address this, Halifax Water, in consultation with Public Health, is developing a risk-based prioritization program that will allow for lead service line replacement outside of paving projects based on budget availability each year. Customers will be able to apply to this program, and based on several risk factors identified during the application process, they will be placed on a prioritization list.

Halifax Water is still developing the details of the enhanced Lead Service Line Replacement Program. Over the coming months, Halifax Water will be finalizing these details. To receive updates from Halifax Water, please fill out our e-mail notification form, here.

The enhanced Lead Service Line Replacement Program's effective date has yet to be determined by the NSUARB. Over the coming months, Halifax Water will be finalizing the details of the new enhanced program. To receive updates please fill out our e-mail notification form, here.

Halifax Water offers complimentary lead sampling to customers who have a lead service line. Review the Homeowner Request Lead Sampling section of Halifax Water's website, here.

2039 is a deadline proposed in our application to the NSUARB and subsequently approved by the NSUARB. This is intended to be the latest possible date that we will still have lead service lines in our system and Halifax Water will work with its partners and if necessary adjust the program if there are opportunities to complete the work by an earlier date.

In order to be able to undertake this program in a manner that is affordable for all Halifax Water rate payers, it was important that the replacements be done in as cost effective a manner as possible. The program is designed to keep pace with HRM’s street recapitalization program which provides Halifax Water the opportunity to replace all existing lead service lines on a street as one project, reduce the restoration costs so the money can be spent on replacement, and minimize public disruption from random work taking place across the impacted area.

Halifax Water is developing other approaches within the program that will enable us to proactively target other groups and neighbourhoods in a proactive manner. Information about these programs will be shared as details are finalized.  To receive updates please fill out our e-mail notification form, here.