Lead in the water: what is this about?
High concentrations of lead in the water only occur in older homes. This is due to the composition of the service connections between these older homes and the municipal water supply system, and to the materials used for the plumbing in older homes, which consist entirely or in part of lead.
In Gatineau, drinking water distributed through the water supply system meets the quality standards set by Quebec's ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs. Approximately 5,000 homes throughout the territory have lead connections that could cause higher concentrations of lead in their drinking water.
Gatineau takes action!
- As soon as a resident replaces a lead connection to the municipal water supply system, Gatineau does the same at its end.
- Also, when Gatineau does any work on the water supply system that contains lead, it automatically replaces it and notifies nearby residents so that they too will change their lead connections.
- As a preventive measure, if the water has been left to stand for a few hours in the pipes, Gatineau recommends that owners of older homes run the water for a few minutes (approximately three minutes) before drinking it. Activities that normally take place in the morning—such as taking a shower and flushing the toilet—help clear the system, so there is no need to let the water run at those times.
- Gatineau also recommends that residents only drink and cook with water from the cold water tap since hot water that has been standing in the hot water tank is more likely to contain traces of lead.
It is important to note that not a single case of lead intoxication caused by tap water has been reported in Gatineau.
Some tricks for checking whether the plumbing in your home is made of lead
Find the water meter in your home and check the pipe. The following signs will indicate that is it made of lead:
- it is grey;
- it does not echo when you gently strike it;
- it leaves metallic marks when you scratch it.
If you cannot do this test, call the owner of your home or a plumber.
If you would like more information on this check the following Web sites:
You can also contact the Direction de la santé publique de l'Outaouais at 819-776-7660.