About Thunder Bay's drinking water

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

In the City of Thunder Bay, our drinking water comes from Lake Superior. Raw water taken directly from the lake is not suitable for drinking. We must treat it to meet Ontario’s drinking water regulations. The location and depth of the intake at the Plant makes our water quality stable for a long time. At the Bare Point Water Treatment Plant on Lakeshore Drive:

  • 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.

Water is then delivered to us from the Plant. This ensures a safe water supply for the City’s water consumers. Learn how we protect our water to ensure that it’s safe to use. 

Information resources:

If you have a concern or question about your water service, call the Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch at 625-2195.


Changes to our drinking water

For information on recent changes, see our Lead in Drinking Water webpage.   

Water filters for homes with lead service pipes:
One 11 cup Ultimate Pitcher Filtration System and six replacement filters were provided in early 2020 to all customers with lead service pipes, to eliminate the risk of consuming lead while drinking tap water. If you purchased a home in 2021 and believe you may have a lead service pipe, please call City Dispatch at 625-2195.   

Users must 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. 


Water-related advice

Water not running? Damp spot on your lawn? Need information about your connection to City water? Check these common concerns in the tabs below.

 Leaks outside the home

If you suspect you are experiencing a leaking pipe that is underground, contact the City’s 24-hour Dispatch line at 625-2195. The City will follow up with you by sending a certified Water Distribution Operator to determine if the leak is on private or public property. If the leak is determined to be on public property, the City will take appropriate measures to remedy the leak at the City’s cost. private and public water service lines

As a homeowner, you are responsible for any leaks determined to be on your private property. There is a fee for the water service valve to be turned off and turned back on when repairs are conducted. This fee will be added to your residential water bill.

If a repair or replacement is required on your private water service pipe, you must apply for a Building/Plumbing Permit. This work must be inspected and approved by the City. Visit our Building and Planning and Building and Plumbing Permits webpages for more information, or call the Building Services Division at 625-2574 for permit requirements.

Homeowners should always watch for anything out of the ordinary in their home or around their property. They may check for continuously wet locations in their yard, unusual cold or wet spots on their basement floor, their water meter continuing to run when no faucets are open, abnormal sounds of running water or “hissing” sounds, and sump pumps running more than usual.

 Leaks inside the home

If you as a homeowner suspect you have a water leak from pipes or fixtures inside your home, it is your responsibility to have them repaired. We encourage you to contact a licensed plumber to conduct repairs. 

If the water needs to be turned off immediately, use the shut-off valve located inside the home on the water pipe just before the water meter. 

If the shut-off valve is not working, call City Dispatch at 625-2195 to request the water service valve at the curb stop to be shut off. There is a fee for the water service valve to be turned off and turned back on when repairs are conducted. This fee will be added to the your residential water bill.

Homeowners should always watch for anything out of the ordinary in their home or around their property. You may look out for continuously wet locations in your yard, unusual cold or wet spots on your basement floor, the water meter continuing to run when no faucets are open, abnormal sounds of running water or “hissing” sounds, wet spots on drywall or sump pumps running more than usual.

Higher-than-normal water bill?
If you have a leak inside your home, your water use will increase and could result in a higher than normal water bill until it is repaired. See our Water Meter Readings and Billing webpage.

Inside & outside water shut-offs

inside water shut-off-valve locationInside Water Shut-Off
If you detect a leak inside your home, or are repairing fixtures, you can use your inside water shut-off to easily shut off water to your whole house. You will find your inside water shutoff where the water pipe enters your home, just before the water meter.
Who to call?
You can operate your inside water shut-off yourself. However, if your inside water shut-off is not working, we encourage you to contact a licensed plumber to conduct repairs.

Outside Water Shut-Off
Your home also has an outside water shut-off, accessible only by City staff.
Who to call?
If you find that your inside water shut-off is not working and you need to shut off water to your house, call City Dispatch at 625-2195 to request the water service valve at the curb stop to be shut off. There is a fee for the water service valve to be turned off and turned back on when repairs are complete. This fee will be added to the your residential water bill.


Permits
If a repair or replacement is required regarding your private water service, you must apply for a Building/Plumbing Permit. This work must be inspected and approved by the City. Visit our Building and Planning and Building and Plumbing Permits webpages for more information, or call the Building Services Division at 625-2574 for permit requirements.

Replacement/repair of a water service pipe

Your water service pipe runs from the water main under your street, through the ground to your house. The private portion of your water service pipe is the portion from your property line to your house (see illustration in Leaks outside the home, above).


Is a permit required if I repair/replace my private water service line?
Yes. If a repair or replacement is required on your private water service pipe, the work must be approved and inspected by the City, so you must apply for a Building/Plumbing Permit. Visit our Building and Planning and Building and Plumbing Permits webpages for more information, or call the Building Services Division at 625-2574 for permit requirements.

What if I am replacing a lead service pipe?
If you have a water service pipe made of lead, first see the safety information on our Lead in Drinking Water webpage.

If your street is scheduled for water main work and you have a lead service pipe, the city-owned portion of the pipe will be replaced at that time. You are responsible for the replacement of your privately owned portion of the pipe, but may arrange for the work to be done at the same time.

Homeowners can access assistance from the City with lead service pipe replacement:

City Council has approved an interest-free loan program that will allow property owners to borrow funds from the City to assist in the replacement of the privately owned portion of lead water service pipes. Download the application form: Lead Water Service Replacement Loan Program Application Form.

If the private portion of your lead water service line has been removed and replaced, the City's Priority Lead Water Service Replacement program can be accessed to prioritize replacement of the city-owned portion of your water service pipe (reduce your wait time), if your street is not scheduled for water main work. Download the application form: Priority Lead Water Service Replacement.

You may access both programs, if both apply to your needs.

I am not sure if my water service pipe is lead - what can I do?
Customers with lead service pipes should have received a notice from the City identifying that their property has a lead service connection. If you are concerned that you may have a lead service pipe, contact the City of Thunder Bay's Infrastructure & Operations Dispatch at 625-2195 to arrange a free test.

When are permits required?
If a repair or replacement is required regarding your private water service, you must apply for a Building/Plumbing Permit. This work must be inspected and approved by the City. Visit our Building and Planning and Building and Plumbing Permits webpages for more information, or call the Building Services Division at 625-2574 for permit requirements.
 Frozen water service

snowflake drawingDuring our cold winters, some City residences can be at risk for frozen water pipes inside or outside the home. 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 pipes:

  • If water piping inside your home is inside cupboards next to exterior walls, keep cupboard doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around pipes
  • Do not set your furnace lower than 55 degrees F (~13 degrees C) at night, or when the house is vacant
  • In the fall, close and drain any pipes leading to outside faucets
  • Wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes most susceptible to freezing, such as pipes near outside walls, in crawlspaces, or in attics
  • Seal air leaks in homes and garages
  • If you will be away for a long 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
  • When renovating, do not leave plumbing in contact with the exterior wall of the basement. Whenever possible, insulation and vapour barriers should be placed between the exterior wall and the plumbing to prevent freezing. If this is not possible, consider leaving the plumbing exposed.
  • Remember to heat your crawlspace and close all vents for the winter months. For chronic freezing issues in crawlspaces, you can install heat trace cable, secured to water lines and wrapped in insulation. 
  • Think about the location of your underground water service pipe when removing snow or planning landscaping or driveway work. Snow provides natural insulation to prevent frost from deeply penetrating the ground. When a water service line is directly under a driveway or an area where the snow is removed or compacted, the water service pipe is more likely to freeze.

Have frozen pipes in the past?

If your home has had 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 a frozen water service this winter?

If you suspect you have a frozen water service pipe now, please call the City Dispatchers at 625-2195. The City maintains an inventory of equipment to thaw out frozen water pipes and will respond as soon as possible.

Please read our handout: How the City Provides Support: Suspected Frozen Water Service (PDF)

Requirements for drinking water

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

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

If your home was built prior to the mid 1950s, you may have a lead service pipe. See our Lead in Drinking Water webpage and learn how you can protect yourself. 

For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002, see Ontario Regulation 170/03 (Drinking Water Systems): https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/030170.

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

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

 

Water fill stations

The City of Thunder Bay operates and maintains 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.View the tab below for details.

Water fill stations: Fobs, costs & locations
Thunder Bay Sewer & Water Services operates and maintains two residential Water Fill Stations (tap houses) to provide rural Thunder Bay residents with potable water. We also operate and maintain one fill station for commercial use only. 

Pre-paid fob

The 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 $0.004200 per litre or $4.200 per cubic metre.

Costs for water quantities

Litres           

Gallons       

Cost          

Description                               

4.54

1

$0.02

1 gallon container

22.70

5

$0.10

5 gallon container

45.40

10

$0.19

10 gallon container

1,135

250

$4.77

Water Tank on Pick-up Truck

4,600

1,013

$19.32

Average Water Delivery Tanker Truck

Where to get a fob

Commercial Water Fill Station fobs at the City's Victoriaville Civic Centre only. You can buy residential Water Fill Station fobs at any of the following locations:

  • City of Thunder Bay, Victoriaville Civic Centre, 101 Syndicate Ave S - by appointment only during COVID pandemic, call 625-2249 to arrange for a fob from this location 
  • Breakaway gas station, 1419 Oliver Rd at Belrose Rd
  • South Neebing Variety, 2060 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 - residential only

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 - residential and commercial

Highway 61 at Mount Forest Boulevard for residential and commercial haulers

Central Avenue Water Fill Station - commercial only

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. Press "B" key to select VEH, and 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 (default); 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 - water will dispense immediately

Your credit balance will display and water will dispense 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. 


Download our handy Water Fill Station Instructions.
water fill stations brochure cover


Thunder Bay 2020 Drinking Water Quality Report - cover

More information:

Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

View our 2020 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report.
See the tab below for previous yearly reports.

 Past Drinking Water Quality Reports - 2009 to 2019

2019 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2018 Drinking Water Quality Annual Report

2017 Drinking Water Quality 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

 

Corrosion Control Plan

In accordance with Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks regulations (formerly Ministry of Environment and Climate Change), the City developed the Corrosion Control Plan to reduce lead levels at the tap. This approved plan is currently under review; short-term measures have been put in place. Customers will be notified of any changes to the drinking water.

City of Thunder Bay Water Authority Financial Plan

View the City of Thunder Bay Water Authority Financial Plan 2018.

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