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2017 Water Main, Sanitary Lining and Lead Water Pipe Replacement Initiative

In the Government of Canada’s Budget 2016, $2 billion was assigned to the federal Clean Water and Wastewater Fund (CWWF). The intent of the CWWF is to accelerate short-term municipal investments while supporting the rehabilitation of water and wastewater infrastructure to meet immediate priorities for clean water and healthier environments for communities.

The City of Saskatoon is embarking on the 2017 Water Main, Sanitary Lining and Lead Water Pipe Replacement Initiative, a large-scale water, and wastewater project. This year, neighbourhoods throughout the city will see major water main replacement work including the replacement of approximately 900 lead water service pipes to homes and businesses. 

The CWWF not only provides a great opportunity for the water and sewer rehabilitation work, it also helps to accelerate our road and sidewalk rehabilitation program. As part of the CWWF program, open trench areas are included as restoration work. Sidewalk work is also included to ensure work is consistent with our typical roadway preservation program. This will provide a complete preservation strategy with water, waste water and full surface treatments of the roadways in these areas.

The Government of Canada is contributing $15.8 million toward the seven projects under this initiative through the CWWF, with the Government of Saskatchewan and the City each providing $7.9 million to cover the remaining costs.

New Funding Options - March, 2017

Thanks to citizen feedback, the City will now offer additional payment options for residents and business owners who will have lead water service pipes replaced. 

The current payment system gives homeowners the option of paying in full when the work was complete or having the costs added to the following year’s taxes.  Under the new program, three and five-year repayment period options will also be available. There will continue to be alternatives for low-income property owners who quality and all repayment plans are interest-free.

New payment options will be offered to homeowners who had or are scheduled to have their connection replacement on or after January 1, 2017.  Homeowners who had their connections replacement prior to this date are not eligible for the new payment options as their replacement amounts would already be applied to their property taxes. 

The city has moved from singular lead water pipe replacement to a neighbourhoods approach.  Combining work with water main replacement and road/sidewalk rehabilitation keeps overall costs lower.  This proactive approach also removes the significant cost associated with emergency work. Through the City’s Accelerated Water and Sewer Rehabilitation Program all of the city’s 4900 lead water service pipes replaced by 2027 with 900 replaced in 2017.  

FAQS FOR NEW FUNDING OPTIONS:

  • New funding options are ONLY available for work completed after January 1, 2017.   Work done in previous years cannot be funded with these new options as payments have already been processed.
  • Homeowners who have already signed a contract for 2017 work are still eligible for the new funding options.  If you have signed a contract and you wish to change to one of the new, longer repayment options, please call 306-975-3693.
  • Homeowners who have signed contracts and do not what to change their selected payment options do not need to do anything.
  • New, longer terms, will have an administration fee.  This fee is for the purpose of cost recovery only and includes the administrative cost of applying the amount to the property taxes as a tax lien and time required to process the multi-year deferral.
  • Contracts signed after April 1st will have PST.  
  • New contracts must be signed and returned within two weeks. 
  • Unsigned contracts that do not list all five methods of payment are no longer valid. A new contract will be sent to you.  Please recycle old contracts.

PAYMENT OPTIONS

There are now five methods of paying the contractor for the work performed:

  1. You can pay the contractor directly in full once the work is done.
  1. You can choose one year deferral and add the cost to next year’s property taxes.  In this case, the City pays the contractor and attaches the amount to your taxes in 2018.  This amount would be due and payable on or before June 30, 2018, if you pay your taxes in full every year.  If you are on the TIPPS program, you would make 12 equal payments starting in January and ending in December.
  1. You can choose a three-year deferral and add the cost to your property taxes over the next three years.  In this case, the City pays the contractor and attaches the amount, plus an administration fee of $190.00, to your taxes.  1/3rd of total amount is then due and payable on or before June 30, 2018.  In each year thereafter, 1/3rd of the amount is due and payable until the amount is paid in full.  If you are on the TIPPS program, you would make 36 equal payments starting in January 2018 and ending in December 2020.  The administration fee is for the purpose of cost recovery only and includes the cost of applying the amount to the property taxes as a tax lien and time required to process the multi-year deferral.
  1. You can choose a five-year deferral and add the cost to your property taxes over the next five years.  In this case, the City pays the contractor and attaches the amount, plus an administration fee of $240.00, to your taxes.  1/5th of the total amount is then due and payable on or before June 30, 2018.  In each year thereafter, 1/5th of the amount is due and payable until the amount is paid in full.  If you are on the TIPPS program, you would make 60 equal payments starting in January 2018 and ending in December 2022. The administration fee is for the purpose of cost recovery only and includes the cost of applying the amount to the property taxes as a tax lien and time required to process the multi-year deferral.
  1. You can choose a ten-year deferral and add the cost on your taxes for the next 10 years.  To qualify for this option you must meet the Low Income Cut Off (LICO) criteria as published by Statistics Canada.  If you wish to explore this option, please fill out and return the LICO application form (Schedule “A” in the attached Selection of Option Contract package) to the City, so the City can determine if you qualify for LICO.  In this case, the City pays the contractor and attaches the amount, plus an administration fee of $365.00, to your taxes.  1/10th of the total amount is then due and payable on or before June 30, 2018.  In each year thereafter, 1/10th of the amount is due and payable until the amount is paid in full.  If you are on the TIPPS program, you would make 120 equal payments starting in January 2018 and ending in December 2027. The administration fee is for the purpose of cost recovery only and includes the cost of applying the amount to the property taxes as a tax lien and time required to process the multi-year deferral. 

What does water main replacement look like?

Every home is slightly different, so every project with be unique.  There are some things that will be standard for every project including:

  • A letter will be sent to homeowners and residents followed by a phone call from city staff as early as possible before the project begins with details about the project.
  • Approximately two weeks before the project starts a construction notice will be delivered to your home with specific details.
  • In the days leading up to the project start date, no parking signs will be placed on your street. 
  • The day before work begins, temporary water service lines will be set up outside your home. You should contact a certified plumber to aid you for the part of this process that will take place inside your home.
  • The day work starts, water connection will be switched from the water main to the temporary water connections.   You may experience a brief interruption in water supply.  You will not need to boil your water. 
  • A work zone will be put in place. PLEASE RESPECT WORK ZONE.
  • Depending on the type of project, a hole may be cut somewhere on your street, in the yard in front of your home or a full trench may be cut down the length of your street.  This will be outlined in detail in your construction notice that will be delivered before the project starts.  
  • Work will continue between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. in accordance with City noise by-laws. If for any reason work needs to be completed beyond those hours, you will be notified in advance.
  • Everything will be done to make sure the project stays on time. Weather events and unforeseen issues can cause delays.
  • You will receive frequent updates on the status of the project.

What if I have lead water pipes?
  • If you have lead pipes in your home your project will look much different as the work will extend into your home.
    • Your plumber will have a hole cut by the foundation of your home or in your basement to show where and how pipes are connected to your home to they can be replaced.
    • The lead pipe between your home and the street is in the ground surrounded by a solid dirt tunnel.  To remove the pipe, it will be broken up and pulled from the tunnel, leaving the tunnel intact. New, PVC pipe will be pushed through the tunnel into the home.  In some cases the tunnel that contained the old, lead pipes between the home and the road is not stable enough for the new pipe to be pushed through.  In this situation a trench between your home and the road will need to be dug.  When work is complete, the hole will be filled with soil, the road will be paved, sidewalks and curbs will be replaced and landscaping will be completed up to the city property line. Landscaping on your property will not be completed by the city.
    • see below in "Lead Pipe Replacement Program" to see more details about this type of project.

Lead Water Pipe Replacement Program 

In 2017, lead water pipe replacement will occur at approximately 800-1000 properties in Saskatoon. Many of these will be included in large-scale Water Main Replacement projects in Buena Vista, Caswell Hill, Holiday Park and Nutana. These property owners will be contacted individually by mail then by phone early in the year.  Many homeowners have already been contacted.

There is no longer a voluntary replacement list, effective August 2016. Locations on that list are being contacted directly by phone to be offered replacement in 2017.  After 2017, approximately 400 lead service pipes will be replaced annually, at the same time as water main and road upgrades.  By 2026 all lead water pipes in Saskatoon will be replaced.

Responsibility for water service pipes

Lead Drawing

The City is responsible for the portion of the connection located on City property and replaces this portion if there is a failure (leak), or if road reconstruction is being completed in the area.  You are responsible for the portion of the connection located on your property. When the City is replacing a connection, you must also replace your portion. The City does not allow partial replacement of lead service connections because of the increased risk to public health.

Payment for Replacement

The cost for service pipe replacements is split, with 60% paid by the City and 40% paid by the homeowner. The homeowner’s portion of the costs can be paid three different ways:

  1. They can pay the contractor directly when the work is complete;
  2. They can choose a one-year deferment, interest-free, and pay with their property taxes in the next taxation year; or
  3. If they qualify under the Federal Low Income Cut-Off, they can spread repayment over 10 years.

Homeowners who want to replace their lead service pipes immediately may have the work completed and the City will reimburse the homeowner 60% of the eligible costs (based on City contract pricing) once the address comes up in the City’s replacement program.

FAQs

Is my water safe?
Yes! The City of Saskatoon conducts rigorous monitoring of the water supply both within the Water Treatment Plant and in the water distribution system. Results are reported to the Water Security Agency as part of our Permit to Operate.
Could there be lead in my drinking water?  
There are over 67,000 water service connections in Saskatoon. If your home was built before 1950, it could have lead in its plumbing system.  
Where does my water come from?  
Treated City water flows from the Water Treatment Plant to water mains (or pipes) located underground throughout the City. Water enters individual properties though a water service connection pipe.  
Is there lead in Saskatoon’s drinking water system?
The drinking water leaving the Saskatoon Water Treatment Plant and in the water distribution system is virtually lead free. The lead level content in the City’s drinking water when it enters the water distribution system is100 times lower than the Health Canada limit. Approximately 4,900 properties in Saskatoon still have lead water service pipes (most built before 1950).  Some may experience lead leaching from the pipes into the drinking water or if the household plumbing system contains lead (including solder and brass fittings). Small amounts of lead can dissolve into drinking water when it sits in household plumbing.
How do I know if I have lead in my drinking water?
You can't see, smell or taste lead in water. The only effective way to measure lead levels in drinking water at home is testing the water at the tap. You can arrange for testing by a private, accredited, licensed laboratory. Look under "Laboratories Testing" online or in the Yellow Pages. Fees will vary.  A licensed plumber can also determine if a home has a lead service connection, and whether the home contains lead solder, lead pipes or lead pipe fittings.
If my water service pipes or plumbing contains lead, is my health at risk?
Excess quantities of lead may impact human health, especially in young children. Health Canada has a conservative limit of 0.010 mg/L of lead in drinking water. This limit is based on long term chronic effects, so short term water consumption above this limit does not necessarily pose a health risk.  The lead level content in Saskatoon drinking water when it enters the distribution system is less than 0.0001mg/L or 100 times lower than the Health Canada limit, however if you have lead in your service pipes or plumbing, your lead levels could be higher.  If lead is ingested over long periods of time, it can cause damage to the human nervous system and cause blood disorders in both humans and animals. Health Canada has a number of factsheets on the health risks of lead. Go to www.hc-sc.gc.ca and search “LEAD”. You may also contact the Saskatoon Health Region at 306-655-4620 or at www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca for more information on the health risks of ingesting lead. You can also go to the National Sanitation Foundation website at www.nsf.org. Search “LEAD”. This site will provide information on certified filtration devices.

How do I pay for my lead water pipe replacement?

The cost for service pipe replacements is split, with 60% paid by the City and 40% paid by the homeowner. The homeowner’s portion of the costs can be paid three different ways:
1. They can pay the contractor directly when the work is complete;
2. They can choose a one-year deferment, interest-free, and pay with their property taxes in the next taxation year; or
3. If they qualify under the Federal Low Income Cut-Off, they can spread repayment over 10 years.
Homeowners who want to replace their lead service pipes immediately may have the work completed and the City will reimburse the homeowner 60% of the eligible costs (based on City contract pricing) once the address comes up in the City’s replacement program.

 

 

Visit Water Main Breaks and Repairs and Water Main Lining for more information and Frequently Asked Questions.

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