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Greater Sudbury considering ways of replacing lead water lines

With no safe level of lead in drinking water, the City of Greater Sudbury will look at ways to replace private lead water pipes in the municipality
Tom Davies Square. Photo By Marg Seregelyi 2002

In hopes of reducing lead exposure in Greater Sudbury, city administration has proposed a few options for mayor and council’s consideration.

These include a lead water service line replacement and subsidy loan program and a water filter program, which the city’s operations committee will consider during their meeting on Monday. 

In a report by city water and wastewater professional Cheryl Beam, it’s noted that “many homeowners do not replace their lead water services on the private side once the public side is replaced.” 

When this happens, she notes that the hydraulic properties of the new pipe against the old lead pipe can exacerbate the lead risk to the household and that the city should strive to remove financial barriers that might prevent some people from replacing their private-side lead pipes.

“There is not a good record of where there are lead water services in Sudbury or their distribution, and it is known that they are only a small fraction of services in the city,” Beam’s report reads. 

“It has been a long-standing practice for the city to replace the city portion of the lead water service when it is discovered, and it is also common that private owners do not replace the private portion of their service.”

Lead was considered an acceptable material in pipes until 1975, and was deemed safe in solder until 1990.

Lead toxicity is now known to cause “reduced cognition, increased blood pressure and renal dysfunction in adults, as well as neurodevelopmental and behavioral effects in children including reductions in intelligence quotient (IQ) scores,” the report says, noting there are no safe levels of lead.

Various municipalities offer water filters, grants/rebates, loans and repayment terms to help people replace or deal with lead pipes, and Beam’s report recommends that staff prepare a business case for such programs. 

Beam’s report will be presented to the city’s operations committee meeting on Monday, which will then forward a recommendation to city council for consideration.

Monday will also see a community services committee meeting take place, while Tuesday will find an audit committee and finance committee meeting take place. 

All meetings will be held virtually and live-streamed on the city’s website

The committees in question are comprised of varying city council members whose recommendations are forwarded to city council as a whole for final decisions. 


Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for 


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
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