Lead in water

The use of lead service lines was prevalent in Quebec until 1970. It was later prohibited by the Construction Code in 1980. Today, the Government of Quebec oversees the regulation of drinking water quality and sets the standards, recognizing lead as a contaminant that requires reduced exposure.

In March 2019, Health Canada updated the drinking water guideline, reducing the maximum acceptable concentration from 0.01 mg/L (set in 1992) to 0.005 mg/L based on the latest scientific findings. Following suit, Quebec became the first province to adopt these lowered norms in October 2019.

Hampstead is dedicated to testing the water in every dwelling to determine compliance with the new maximum acceptable level, aiming to ultimately remove public water service lines made of lead. Additonally, Hampstead performs maintenance on their water network regularly and samples water to be tested for contaminants. The health of residents is a priority. By-Laws Number 1031

Frequently Asked Questions

Hampstead’s water is provided by two water treatment plants: the Atwater treatment plant (Sud-Ouest) and the Charles-J.-Des Baillets treatment plant (LaSalle). The water is safe, regularly tested and reaches Hampstead via an underground water network made of cast iron and PCV. There are little to no traces of lead in the water as it travels through the underground water network. If you have received the result of your water analysis and your result is 0.005 mg/L or less, this is considered acceptable. The Ministry of Health still recommends that water be filtered below the norm if the result is between 0.0021 mg/L and 0.005 mg/L. 

At the scheduled time, a technician arrives to conduct the required test, following established protocols. They collect a water sample, usually from the kitchen sink, which takes 45 minutes to complete. They will run the water for 5 minutes. Thereafter, the water cannot be used for a period of stagnation of 30 minutes, then the water sample will be collected. The sample is then transported to an accredited laboratory for analysis. Letters disclosing the detected lead levels during the examination are sent to the address in question. These letters undergo review by the Quebec public health authority, the Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal.

Residents who have received the result from their first water sampling, indicating the water exceeds the maximum acceptable concentration of 0.005 mg/L, must book a sequential test (second test).  The sequential test aims to assess lead levels beyond the valve and towards the public portion, aiding Hampstead in determining the need for excavation and establishing the priority level of excavation, with priority given to the highest levels first.

If your test result for lead in drinking water is higher than 0.005 mg/L and you have infants, children, or pregnant women in your household, it is important to take immediate action to reduce lead levels while awaiting the next test. Here are some immediate actions you can take:

  1. Use an alternative water source for drinking and food preparation, such as bottled water.
  2. Consider purchasing a low-cost filter designed to reduce lead in water.
  3. Do not use water with lead contamination to make formula for infants.
  4. Boiling the water will not effectively reduce lead levels, so it should not be relied upon as a solution.
  5. It is essential to note that increased lead in drinking water is only a concern if it is ingested.
  6. It is safe to use tap water with higher lead levels for activities such as showering, bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry.

It is crucial to conduct additional sampling following elevated results. Please schedule your second appointment as soon as possible within the testing window to ensure accurate monitoring and evaluation of lead levels. By taking these precautionary measures and seeking further testing, you can minimize the potential risks associated with elevated lead levels in your drinking water.

A water service pipe connects a building to the municipal water supply. Property owners are responsible for the pipe from their home to the water shut-off valve (referred to as the private portion) and the Town owns and maintains the pipe from the water shut-off valve to the watermain (referred to as the public portion). In Quebec, lead gets into drinking water mainly as a result of dissolution of lead from pipes, especially the service line, between some houses and the municipal distribution system.

The responsibility is shared between the Town and the home owners. The public section (from the water main to the shut-off valve) is replaced at the Town’s expense. The private section (from the shut-off valve to the tap) is replaced at the owner’s expense.

The private section of water service lines, comprising pipes, fittings, and faucets from the shut-off valve to the tap, may potentially be constructed with lead materials. It is the responsibility of homeowners to consult with a plumber to assess whether such lead components are present and if any necessary actions are required for their residence. The replacement of the private section is the homeowner’s financial responsibility. To maintain impartiality, Hampstead does not provide specific referrals or recommendations for services or companies to carry out this work on residents’ properties. While Hampstead cannot enforce the replacement of lead pipes, we strongly recommend homeowners to consider replacing the private section of water service lines if they are made of lead.

Each home will receive a complimentary water pitcher along with a lead filter. If the filter needs to be replaced, convenient options are available for purchase both online and at various retail locations. To obtain the pitcher, residents can visit either the Town Hall or the community center. Please remember to bring a valid proof of residency, as this offer is exclusively available to Hampstead residents.


Replacement of water service lines

For an address to be added to the lead pipe replacement list, Hampstead must complete a first water sampling and a sequential test (second sample) to locate the source of the lead. Once the analysis is completed, the results will indicate where the lead is coming from and what replacements are required.

The first water sampling is to determine if your address is below the maximum acceptable concentration for total lead in drinking water, which is 0.005 mg/L. The technician will collect a water sample for analysis by an accredited laboratory to determine if the lead concentration is equal to or below 0.005 mg/L.

Residents who have received the result from the first water sampling, indicating their water exceeds the maximum acceptable concentration of 0.005 mg/L, must schedule a sequential test. Please be aware that your booking will be cancelled if you haven’t completed the first test. The sequential test aims to assess lead levels beyond the valve and towards the public portion, aiding Hampstead in determining the need for excavation and establishing the priority level of excavation, with priority given to the highest levels first.

Once you have completed your first and second test, you will be placed on a priority list for excavation. Excavation are being completed until November 2023 (under the ground freezes).

After the excavation, residents must schedule an appointment for a third sampling. This test is to confirm that the replacement of the lead pipes has successfully lowered the lead levels. Please note that this sampling can only be conducted three months after the excavation to allow sufficient time for the flushing process to take effect. If you book the appointment too soon, it will need to be rescheduled accordingly.

Your obligations as an owner

Replacing the private portion of the service line is your responsibility as an owner. Please plan the replacement of your service line.

No Lead Concentration (>0.002)No measure.


Low Lead Concentration below applicable standard (0.0050.002)

Interventions should be made to locate and replace problematic plumbing fixtures, and actions to be taken to reduce the exposure to lead.
Relatively High Concentration; Exceeding applicable standard (<0.005)Interventions should be made to locate and replace problematic plumbing fixtures, and actions to be taken to reduce the exposure to lead.

Please be advised that a follow-up will be done as soon as a lead concentration is detected.

When necessary, the Town will issue a notice to ensure the safety of its citizens. Examples are: Boil-water advisory, Water Interruption service, Do-not-consume advisory, Do-not use advisory.

To reduce exposure to lead and minimize your risk, here are the recommendations from Public Health Quebec:

  • Use a water filter pitcher, a tap filter or a pipe filter under your sink. These devices must be certified for lead reduction in accordance with NSF/ANSI standard 53, and the manufacturer’s installation and maintenance instructions must be followed carefully.
  • To flush water that has stagnated in the service line, run the tap for a few minutes once the water is cold (cool in summer) before drinking it, especially if it has been sitting in the pipes for many hours (in the morning and when you get home from work).
  • When preparing food, infant formula and drinks, use only cold tap water. Hot water tends to contain more lead.
  • Remove and clean the aerator (small filter) in the spout of the tap regularly because lead can build up in it.

Boiling water will not remove lead because lead does not evaporate. It can even increase the lead concentration in the water.

For further information, here are links that can help you:

Submit a question or request

The communications officer serves as the link between residents and the different departments responsible for lead project. For inquiries, please complete the form below, which will be directly forwarded to the communications officer. Please anticipate a response within 2-4 business days, via email. If you prefer a phone call, kindly indicate your preference in the message section. To book an appointment, please use the button at the top right of this page.


JuneFirst Contact Letter 
July to OctoberSampling for analysis of lead concentration in drinking water
FallExcavations and replacement of lead pipes on the public portion of the service entrance
November to Spring 2023Visual inspection by a member of the Public Works Aqueduct team
MayExcavations and replacement of lead pipes on the public portion of the service entrance
July 1 Return of samples for analysis of lead concentration in drinking water

*Please note that several projects are underway simultaneously to make rapid progress and reduce contaminant exposure in the community.