Blog: Get the Lead Out of Our Drinking Water – The View from Hamilton

Blog posted by Jacqueline Wilson, Counsel and Eneria Mucaj, Law Student, CELA

CELA has launched a campaign to “Get the Lead Out of our Drinking Water”. We are concerned about lead in drinking water because it’s a toxin that is particularly harmful to young children and disproportionately impacts low-income people. Despite recent attention on lead in drinking water, it remains a persistent issue across the province. It’s time to solve the problem once and for all.

CELA recently sent a detailed policy submission to the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks with recommendations on how to strengthen the Safe Drinking Water Act and remove lead service lines across the province by 2035. Lead service lines are the most significant remaining source of lead in drinking water. Lead solder and fixtures can be a problem, too.

As part of CELA’s campaign, we have looked at how lead in drinking water is affecting Ontarians across the province, focused on low-income and vulnerable people in our communities. This month, CELA co-hosted a webinar on lead in drinking water in Hamilton with Environment Hamilton. We were thrilled to be joined by Matthew Lawson, Manager of Environmental Health-Health Hazards and Vector Borne Disease of City of Hamilton, Public Health and Kerry LeClair, Climate Action Community Coordinator from Ward 3 (aka Hamilton Centre), Cllr Nrinder Nann’s office.

Hamilton has a lot of old housing with lead service line infrastructure. It has been doing more than most Ontario communities to tackle the problem. Hamilton has approximately 20,000 remaining lead service lines. It recently introduced corrosion control to lower lead levels. It also offers loans for homeowners (interest-free for qualifying low-income people) wishing to replace lead service lines. But, the removal of LSLs across the city remains too slow and out of reach for low-income people who must still pay for the LSL replacement over time. In the meantime, low-income and vulnerable children continue to be exposed to lead.

We strongly recommend that you get your water tested if you have any concern that you have a lead service line (if you live in Hamilton – get your water tested by calling 905-546-2489). CELA will continue to work toward legislative and policy changes to keep low-income and vulnerable people in all of Ontario from being exposed to lead in drinking water. Stay tuned for more!