The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has given the go-ahead for a 25 per cent subsidy to help homeowners replace lead pipes that carry drinking water into their homes.
That’s predicted to save Haligonian homeowners about $1,250 on a job that costs an average of $5,000.
Halifax Water will also begin a campaign to increase public awareness of the need to replace lead service lines.
“The main next steps are to educate our customers on what is lead and what is the dangers of lead,” said James Campbell, spokesperson for Halifax Water.
“We want to get lead out our of the entire system.”
READ MORE: Tens of thousands of Canadian households still have toxic lead pipes
The decision on Halifax Water’s proposal was released on Tuesday.
Health Canada has said that there is no acceptable level of lead exposure as even “low levels of lead can cause harmful effects.”
Lead exposure can raise blood pressure, decrease kidney function, result in convulsions, coma or even death. Water tainted with lead can especially be a danger to pregnant or breastfeeding mothers as well as young children.
The lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., has brought the issue to public attention.
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In Halifax, properties are connected to water mains with a pipe. The section of the pipe between the water main and the property line is the utility’s responsibility (public side). The section that goes onto the property is the property owner’s responsibility (private side).
Until the mid-1950s lead was the standard for water pipes in Halifax and it’s estimated that there are between 10,000 and 15,000 lead pipes on private property and close to 2,500 on public land in the utility’s jurisdiction.
They’re mostly located on the Halifax peninsula and the utility has said that they plan to replace all of them by 2050.
The utility doesn’t have the ability to force citizens to replace the lead pipes on their property and after studies showed that replacing only the public portion of the lead line caused levels of lead in drinking water to increase, Halifax Water no longer carries out partial replacements.
WATCH: Halifax Water wants municipality to help homeowners afford replacing lead pipes
It’s Halifax Water’s hope that the subsidy will induce customers to replace the lead lines leading to their home, an important step in ridding the municipality of lead water lines.
“The biggest hurdle for people is the cost,” said Campbell.
In addition, the utility will request the municipality to establish a mechanism to finance the remainder of the cost.