toronto water

Toronto Water: Summer Tips

With warm weather finally upon us, Toronto Water has been reminding residents about the things they can do to help prevent flooding, conserve water and protect their homes.

Gardening

  • Use rainwater to water your grass and gardens.
  • Sweep sidewalks and driveways clean instead of using a running hose.
  • Start planning a water-efficient, natural garden using native plants and trees.

Car washing

  • The dirt on cars can contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals, oil and grease. To avoid having dirty water run into the storm sewer system, consider washing your car in a commercial car wash facility (these facilities are required to follow a set of practices determined by the city, including treating wastewater and discharging it into the sanitary sewer system where it will receive further treatment).

Basement flooding

  • Clear eavestroughs and downspouts of debris.
  • Disconnect downspouts that empty into the City’s sewer system.
  • Don’t flush disposable wipes down the toilet.
  • Install a back-water valve or basement sump pump.

Lead Pipes and Water Quality

As you may have read, the Toronto Star published a story on water quality tests that showed elevated lead levels in a number of Toronto homes and mentioned North Toronto.

I immediately reached out to the General Manager of Toronto Water and met with the city’s Medical Officer of Health for background as well as an update on what the city is doing to combat the issue. As I told the Toronto Star, when there’s an issue with a “critical” municipal service, the city needs to act quickly.

According to Toronto Water, the problem is caused by lead service pipes that connect the city’s main water line to individual houses. This service line was commonly made of lead prior to the mid 1950s. That is, this is an issue for older homes built before the mid 1950s.

According to the Medical Officer of Health, even where the lead levels are elevated, the health effects are minimal and no one will get sick as a result. Nevertheless, we need to work to reduce our exposure to lead across the board and the city is taking action.

In 2011, City Council approved the Lead in Drinking Water Mitigation Strategy, a four-part plan to minimize lead in drinking water. The strategy includes lead service pipe replacement, a faucet filter program, water testing for residents and, most recently, a corrosion control program.

As a homeowner, there are three things you can do to reduce your exposure.

First, if you live in an older, pre-1950s home and are concerned about your water quality, you can have your water tested by the city for free to determine if you need to take action. For more information, please visit Toronto Water’s website.

Second, you can replace your lead service pipe. Homeowners are responsible for the section of the pipe that runs from their home to the property line. The city is responsible for the section of the pipe that runs from the property line to the city’s watermain. You can see a diagram here.

If you replace your side of the service pipe, the city will replace its side on a priority basis. For more information on this program, please click here.

Finally, you can install an end-of-tap filter, which the Medical Officer of Health told me cuts out 95 per cent of any lead in water.

For the most up to date information as well as all of the details on what the city’s doing to combat the issue, please visit http://toronto.ca/leadpipes.

Additionally, Toronto Water staff will be on hand at my Environment Day (Saturday, May 31, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at York Mills Collegiate) to address any questions and concerns about lead pipes and water quality.