A staff report provided Hamilton’s Public Works Committee notes there are approximately 20,000 homes in Hamilton that still have lead water services. Under the current it will take 25 years to replace an estimated remaining 20,000 lead water service lines in the drinking water system at the current replacement rate of 800 homes per year. The city is spending about $4 Million per year on the program.
Accelerating the program to get the replacements done in 10 years would increase the annual expenditure to $14 Million per year.
The staff report reads, “Developing a robust database of lead water service line locations is critical to accelerating the replacement program. It is generally accepted in the industry that homes built prior to 1955 were likely to have a lead water service line. This is a key statistic that has been and will continue to be utilized in outreach and education efforts (via water bill inserts, direct property mailings, community advertising, web material etc.), to notify property Owners and Occupants of the potential for their property to have a lead water service line.”
Lead in drinking water is a major concern for older cities across North America including cities such as Hamilton. The City of Hamilton has robust strategies to control lead in drinking water including an active lead replacement program and a chemical-based corrosion control program. As identified previously in this report, Hamilton Water is conducting a pipe analysis study to determine the maturity and effectiveness of the corrosion control program. Additionally, early stages of the corrosion control program has demonstrated reductions in the percentage of lead samples above the maximum allowable concentration of 10 µg/L for lead in drinking water.
The Public Works Committee has approved a motion by Councillor Sam Merulla to report back to the Public Works Committee on funding options for a 5 year and 10-year funding plan utilizing Water, Wastewater and Stormwater rates, general levy or any other level of government subsidy opportunities related to the capital and operating costs. The lead contamination issue was first raised By Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina when he was on council. He told the Bay Observer that he is continuing to work with federal officials to try to get funds to accelerate the conversion process.