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Water Update: Lead Levels Well Below Limits in Distribution System

The City’s participation in the Provincial testing program shows that lead levels are well below limits in the water distribution system; the Environment Division said today. Thunder Bay is taking part in the Ministry of the Environment’s Ontario Community Lead Testing Program. Lead levels in Thunder Bay are being tested in the drinking water of 100 private residences, 10 non-residential sites and 20 sites within the distribution system once every six months.

From January 2008 to February 2009, Thunder Bay has obtained 711 water samples from private plumbing systems and the watermain distribution system. Results show that the average lead concentration in our distribution system is 2.3 micrograms per litre, well below the municipal drinking water quality standard of ten micrograms per litre – meeting provincial standards close to 99 % of the time. All samples taken in the distribution system since June 2008 are below the Ontario Drinking Water Standard of less than 10 micrograms per litre.

The following table summarizes the results of testing conducted to date:

Private Plumbing Systems

Watermain Distribution System

# of Samples Taken



Average Lead Concentration (µg/L)



# of samples above 10µg/L



% of samples meeting the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standard



There is no lead in the water leaving the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant. It enters the water from lead-soldered household plumbing and/or lead service connections. Property owners who live in a home built before 1950 can contact the City at 684-2195 to determine if they have a lead service connection.

“Homeowners whose water tested above the limit were notified of the results and advised that a good way to reduce lead levels is to flush their system before using water for drinking or cooking by running the cold water tap for a minimum of five minutes,” said Kerri Marshall, Manager –Environment Division. “First thing in the morning or after six hours of non-use, run the cold water to flush the standing water from the pipes and ensure that fresh water is drawn in from the City main.”

When watermains are replaced, lead service connections are also replaced to the property line. The homeowner has the option at that time to make arrangements with the City, or a contractor, to replace the service from the property line to the house at their own expense.

General information about lead and lead services can be found at the web site of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit at The City’s 2008 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report is available online on the City of Thunder Bay’s web site at

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Contact: Jim Vukmanich, Chief Chemist - Environment Division, 625-3537