The Engineering Department is starting the 2020 Lead Reduction program, launched originally in 2019.

In 2019, year one of the program, 2000 samples were collected from the approximately 8700 suspected properties. Only 2% of the tested properties exceeded the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard of 10 micrograms of lead per litre of water.

In 2020, year two, the goal is to collect water samples at the remaining properties within the suspected lead zone.  A notice with detailed information will be sent to all homes within the suspected lead zone that require a water sample. These notices will be mailed by block in the coming weeks.

The “Lead Zone” is bounded by Murphy Road and the St. Clair River (east to west) and Highway 402 to St. Andrew St (north to south) see Figure 1. These homes are typically built in the mid-1950’s and are suspected to have lead service lines underground and possibly lead plumbing within the house.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has modified its’ sampling methods to protect both the public and City staff. Instead of in-home sampling, staff will now collect the water sample from an outside tap. The homeowner/tenant is not required to be present at the time of sampling.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks has verified that these water samples are representative of the residence plumbing and do not detract from the quality of testing. Residents will be given at least 5 business days, from the delivery date of the notice, to opt out of the water sampling program if desired.

Qualified City employees, with City ID, will visit homes that require sampling to complete the lead test. Those wishing to opt out of the testing can do so by notifying the Lead Reduction Office within 5 days of receiving their notice. There is no cost to homeowners for this visit. All water sampling results will be forwarded to both the property owner and the tenant.

Lead in Drinking Water

Sarnia’s water contains little to no traces of lead once it leaves the water treatment plant. Lead gets into your drinking water by:

  1. Lead service lines from the water main to your home, both private and publicly owned
  2. Internal plumbing lines
  3. Solder containing lead
  4. Fixtures such as taps

Effects of Lead in Drinking Water

Elevated lead exposure can pose a threat to the vulnerable public, specifically to children under six years old, pregnant women, women who are planning a pregnancy and the elderly. For more information about the health risks of lead in drinking water please visit Lambton Public Health’s website: https://lambtonpublichealth.ca/resource/lead-in-drinking-water/

Options to Eliminate Lead in Drinking Water

There are two options to eliminate the amount of lead in your drinking water. The first way is a temporary fix, to purchase a filter. Secondly, the only permanent way to eliminate lead in drinking water is to replace lead service lines. Water service lines branch off from the municipal water main under the street and connect to the interior plumbing of your home. The City of Sarnia is responsible for the water service lines from the water main to the property line. The homeowner is responsible for the internal plumbing and service lines from the home to the property line.

Homeowner Support Programs

Sarnia will be offering homeowners support through a Filter Rebate Program.

Figure 1: The Lead Zone
Image: Sarnia let’s get the lead out