Drinking Water Changes Brochure Image


Learn about the Important Public Notice: Drinking Water System Change - pH Adjustment

Let's talk about the changes to the City's drinking water. The pH of the drinking water of the City of Thunder Bay is changing as the City will phase out the addition of sodium hydroxide. As a result, lead levels are expected to increase for customers with lead service pipes.  
Update: Delivery Underway of Water Pitchers and Filters for Customers with Lead Service Pipes
Delivery of the water pitchers and filters will start this week (Feb. 10) and continue throughout the month. Each kit comes assembled in a kraft paper bag comprised of one 11 cup Ultimate Pitcher Filtration System and six replacement filters. These kits will be provided at no cost to residents with lead service pipes.

Users need to follow the manufacturer’s owner’s manual that provides instructions on how to use the pitcher and filters. These water filters are certified to reduce lead in tap water and should be used for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. It is important to use these filters as lead in drinking water can pose health risks, especially for infants, children under the age of six, and pregnant women.  
Important Notice: pH Change to the City's Drinking Water 
Lead Levels Expected to Increase for Customers with Lead Service Pipes - Filters to Be Provided

The pH of the drinking water of the City of Thunder Bay is changing as the City will phase out the addition of sodium hydroxide.

As a result of regulatory changes in Ontario, the City was mandated to implement a corrosion control plan to reduce lead levels at the tap. Sodium hydroxide was added to the City’s drinking water, in 2016, as part of a pilot study, as approved by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

In 2018, sodium hydroxide was introduced city wide as a corrosion inhibitor to reduce lead levels at the tap for customers with lead service pipes or internal lead plumbing. Although the use of sodium hydroxide is effective at reducing lead levels, increased reports of pinhole leaks in pipes have been received which require further review.

The City is working closely with the MECP and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit on this change to the drinking water and evaluating other means of corrosion control that may be implemented in the future.

All customers should routinely flush their pipes prior to consumption to maintain water quality at the tap. This can be accomplished by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, doing a load of laundry, or running your cold water tap to clear the pipes.

Drinking water filters will be available to all customers with lead service pipes. In the coming weeks, customers with lead service pipes will receive additional information on this change and will be provided with a drinking water filter for one year at no charge. It is important customers use the filter provided as lead found in drinking water can pose significant health risks. This is especially important for homes with children under the age of 6, pregnant women, or women planning a pregnancy.

The City of Thunder Bay’s Water Authority’s top priority is to maintain a safe and sustainable supply of water for the citizens of Thunder Bay.

For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 and requirements for municipalities to implement a corrosion control plan, see Ontario Regulation 170/03 (Drinking Water Systems): https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/030170

**More information will be posted on this page when it comes available. 

Changes to Drinking Water System – Questions & Answers

Does the water that leaves the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant contain lead?
No. The water produced by the City of Thunder Bay’s Bare Point Water Treatment Plant and distribution system does not contain lead.
 How can lead enter the drinking water in my home?

Lead can enter the drinking water in your home from the following:

  • Lead pipes found in homes built before the mid-1950s, and the service line for these, which is the pipe that connects your home’s plumbing to the City’s watermain
  • Lead solder used to join pipes together before the 1990s
  • Leaded-brass fixtures, such as faucets and valves
 What does the change to the drinking water system mean for me?

The City's Water Authority will phase out the addition of sodium hydroxide to the City’s drinking water. This will result in the pH decreasing to levels close to neutral.

For properties with lead service pipes, leaded-brass fixtures or lead solder, the Water Authority anticipates lead levels at the tap will increase to similar levels found in 2017.

If you have lead plumbing, then you need to take precautions to reduce your lead exposure. Please see below.

When will the change to the drinking water system take place?
Starting in late February 2020, the Water Authority will start phasing out the addition of sodium hydroxide. This change will occur gradually over 2-3 months.
Will there be any disruption to residents' water supply?

No, there should not be any disruption to residents' water supply when this change is made. If you experience a disruption, contact the Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch at 625-2195.

Will there be any noticeable change to residents' water such as discolouration, water pressure, or taste?

No, there should not be any changes to residents' water including discolouration, water pressure, or taste. If you experience any changes, please contact the Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch at 625-2195.

What is the City doing to make sure residents know about this risk of lead in pipes?

The City continues to advise the public about the risks of lead exposure through a number of different channels. 

Up-to-date information is available on this webpage as well as at: www.thunderbay.ca/leadpipes

An information brochure regarding the changes to the water system will be delivered to all customers of the City’s drinking water system.

In addition, customers with lead service pipes will receive a separate notice from the City regarding water filters and lead exposure.

What is the City doing to protect residents with lead service pipes to exposure of lead in drinking water?

For customers with lead service pipes, drinking water filters will be provided in the short term (1 year supply) at no cost, to reduce lead exposure.

The City continues to work with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit to evaluate further methods to reduce lead levels measured at the tap and update the City’s Corrosion Control Plan.

What are the health risks of consuming water from lead pipes?

Lead found in drinking water can pose a significant health risk if too much enters the body. The population at the highest risk of lead exposure are infants, young children under the age of six, and pregnant women. Lead exposure targets specific areas of the body such as the nervous system, blood system, and the kidneys.

For more information on the risks of lead in drinking water, visit Health Canada’s website.

How can I find out if I have a lead service pipe?

Customers with lead service pipes will receive a notice from the City identifying that their property has a lead service pipe.

You may be able to see a portion of the service pipe in your basement, near the water meter. Lead pipes are a dull grey colour. If you scrape the surface of the pipe gently, the metal beneath will be shiny and silver. If you suspect that your service line contains lead, you can have your water tested.

If you do not receive a letter by March 1, and suspect that you may have a lead service pipe, contact the City of Thunder Bay's Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch at 625-2195.

What can I do to protect myself and my family against lead in drinking water?

If you have a lead service pipe, you should flush out your plumbing after water has been sitting in the pipes for a few hours, such as first thing in the morning or when you get home from work.

Flushing can be done by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, doing a load of laundry, or running the cold water for 2 minutes. This will protect the quality of the drinking water coming out of the tap.

Is it safe to take a bath or shower in water that may contain lead?

Yes. Bathing and showering is safe for you and your children, even if the water contains lead.

According to Health Canada, lead will not enter the body through the skin or by breathing in vapours while showering or bathing. Bathing and showering in water that contains levels of lead above the guideline value is considered safe.

To learn more, visit Health Canada’s website.

Do I need to filter my water for cooking?

Residents with lead service pipes should regularly flush their water prior to using it for cooking. It is recommended that these residents also use the filter provided to further reduce lead exposure. 

In addition, use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula.

Will boiling water reduce or remove lead from my drinking water?
No. Boiling water does not remove lead from water. In fact, it may concentrate it and make it worse.
Can I brush my teeth with water that may contain lead?

Yes. But, residents are advised not to swallow the water unless they have flushed their pipes.
Residents with lead service pipes should regularly flush their pipes prior to consumption.

Flushing can be done by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, doing a load of laundry, or running the cold water for 2 minutes. This will protect the quality of the drinking water coming out of the tap.

Can I wash my dishes with water that may contain lead?
Yes.
Can I give my pets water that may contain lead?

As long as residents regularly flush their pipes prior giving it to pets, it is safe for consumption.

Flushing can be done by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, doing a load of laundry, or running the cold water for 2 minutes. This will protect the quality of the drinking water coming out of the tap.

Can I use water that may contain lead in my fish tank?

You should flush your water prior to using it in your fish tank.

Flushing can be done by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, doing a load of laundry, or running the cold water for 2 minutes. This will protect the quality of the drinking water coming out of the tap. 

Will I be compensated for flushing my water taps?
No, you will not be compensated. To avoid wasting water, take a shower, run the washing machine, or run the dishwasher to clear the pipes. You may also find other uses for your flushed water, including watering plants, washing dishes, etc.
Where can I find more information about the health risks associated with lead in drinking water?
Visit Health Canada’s website.
You say that lead in our drinking water will return to pre-2018 levels. How did I not realize that I was potentially drinking lead-contaminated water for all that time prior to 2018?
Chronic low-level lead exposure is fairly common because up until about 40 years ago lead was used in many products, including lead pipes, lead paint, and leaded gasoline. It will take a long time to remove all of this lead from our environment.

About Thunder Bay's drinking water

In the City of Thunder Bay, our drinking water comes from Lake Superior. Water is delivered to us from the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant on Lakeshore Drive. The location and depth of the intake at the Plant makes our water quality stable for a long time. This ensures a safe water supply for City’s water system consumers. Learn how we protect our water to ensure that it’s safe to use.

Learn about lead in drinking water and how you can protect yourself. 

The City strives to protect our drinking water and provide you with quality water through source water protection, backflow prevention, and quality control.

*Below, the American Water Works explains how to maintain high water quality, specifically with faucets:

 *Excepted by permission. Copyright © American Water Works Association. 

Raw water

Raw water taken directly from the lake is not suitable for drinking. We have to treat it to meet Ontario’s drinking water regulations. At the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant:

  • We draw water from its source;
  • Pass it through a screening process;
  • Filter it through the Zeeweed membrane filtration system; and
  • Disinfect and then transport it through the City’s extensive water supply system.

Requirements for drinking water

The City’s Municipal Drinking Water Works Licence, in conjunction with the Safe Drinking Water Act and associated regulations, set stringent monitoring requirements for drinking water. The City employs a certified Laboratory for its drinking water testing requirements. The results of this monitoring process are available in the latest of the City of Thunder Bay’s Drinking Water Quality Annual Report, prepared as required by Ontario Regulation 170/03 Drinking Water Systems.

Water fill stations
We operate and maintain two residential water fill stations (tap houses) to provide rural Thunder Bay residents with potable water and we have one fill station for commercial use only. 

Pre-paid fob

City’s residential and commercial Water Fill stations use a fob system. In order to dispense water, you need to purchase a fob. A $15 deposit is required when you purchase your fob. Lost or damaged fobs will not be refunded.

Charge for water

The charge for water at water fill stations is $0.003630 per litre or $3.630 per cubic metre.

Costs for water quantities

Litres           

Gallons       

Cost          

Description                               

4.54

1

$0.02

1 gallon container

22.70

5

$0.08

5 gallon container

45.40

10

$0.16

10 gallon container

1135

250

$4.12

Water Tank on Pick-up Truck

4600

1013

$16.70

Average Water Delivery Tanker Truck

Where to get a fob

You can buy commercial water fill station fobs at the City Cashiers wicket in Victoriaville Civic Centre only. You can buy residential water fill station fobs at any of the following locations:

  • Cathy's Discount Store, 238 Red River Rd
  • City of Thunder Bay Cashiers wicket, Victoriaville Civic Centre, 125 S Syndicate Ave
  • Municipality of Shuniah Office, 420 Leslie Ave
  • Oliver Road Can-op, 1419 Oliver Rd
  • South Neebing Variety, 2060 Hwy 61 (Hwy 61 at Mountain Rd)

Water fill station locations

You can use the following water fill stations once you have your fob. Don't forget to have your fob with you when picking up water. Please don't idle your vehicle!

Valley Street Water fill station

​Valley Street, north of the Hwy 11/17 expressway, at the intersection of Valley Street & Hutton Park Drive, for residential use only

Highway 61 Water fill station 

Highway 61 at Mount Forest Boulevard for residential and commercial haulers

Central Avenue Water fill station 

West of Amber Drive, for commercial customers only who haul large amounts of water.

How to use a water fill station

  1. Apply your key fob to the touch reader
  2. Enter your 4 Digit FOB Number (omit the zero at front of # if there is one)
  3. Press C Key to select PUMP – Press 1 for Outlet #1 (this is default setting). Press 2 for Outlet #2, 3 for Outlet #3
  4. Press * Key to select PRE and then enter amount of water you require in litres
  5. Press the D key for OK

Your credit balance will display and water will start dispensing to your requested amount or to your credit available, whichever is the smallest  amount.

Check the display

The display will show the amount dispensed in cubic meters (example: 1.00 = one cubic meter = 1,000 litres). The total amount dispensed will stay on the screen at the end of the transaction. Press red stop button at any time to stop the transaction. 

Frozen water service

Some City residences can be at risk for frozen water pipes, depending on temperatures during the winter season. Most water service pipes are buried two metres below ground to protect against frost; however, extremely cold weather or fluctuations in temperature can result in frost pushing deeper into the ground and freezing pipes.

What you can do

Here are steps you can take to reduce the risk of frozen water services:

  • If water piping is located within cupboards next to exterior walls, keep cupboard doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around pipes
  • Do not set furnace lower than 55 degrees F (~13 degrees C) at night, or when the house is vacant
  • Close and drain pipes leading to outside faucets
  • Wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes most susceptible to freezing like pipes near outside walls, in crawl spaces, or in attics
  • Seal air leaks in homes and garages
  • If you will be away for a long period of time, close off your main service valve in your basement and open all taps to allow pipes to drain, and have someone check your home regularly

Have frozen pipes in the past?

If your home has experienced frozen water services in the past, and the part that froze was on City property, we may advise you to leave a cold-water tap running slightly if frost depths are deeper than normal. We will adjust your water bill to consider this. If the freezing was located on private property, any extra cost is the property owner’s responsibility.

Experiencing frozen water services this winter?

If you experience frozen water services this winter, please call us at 625-2195. The City maintains an inventory of equipment to thaw out frozen water pipes and will respond as soon as possible.

Learn how the City of Thunder Bay will provide support after in the case where you suspect your water service is frozen.

Corrosion Control Plan  

In accordance with Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) regulations, the City developed a Corrosion Control Plan. Changes to the plan are coming in 2020. 

Maintaining High Water Quality: Faucets  
See tips on how to maintain the water faucets in your home from the American Water Works Association faucets in your home.
Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

View our Drinking Water Quality Annual Report for more information.

Past reports

Drinking Water Quality 2017 Annual Report

2016 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2015 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2014 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2013 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2012 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2011 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2010 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2009 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

City of Thunder Bay Water Authority Financial Plan
For more information, view the City of Thunder Bay Water Authority Financial Plan 2018.

Contact Us