Water and Sewer Upgrades
Significant water and sewer improvement work is happening around the city over the next few years. This work includes the preservation/rehabilitation of water mains, some of which are more than 100 years old. The upgrades bring numerous benefits:
- Protection of a clean, clear water supply
- Reduction in risk of contaminants
- Decreased susceptibility to breakage or failures
- Increased capacity to accommodate future neighbourhood development
- Decreased risk of water service disruptions
- Restoration of roadways, resulting in smooth, 'like new' road surfaces
- Replacement or rehabilitation of sidewalks
In 2019, water main replacements took place in neighbourhoods such as Riversdale and City Park and there are plans to return to both neighbourhoods in 2020. Details will be posted on the complete 2020 water main replacement schedule once it is finalized.
Lead Water Pipe Replacement Program
Water Main Replacement Process
Every building is different, so every project will be unique. However, there are some things that will be standard for every project including:
- You will receive a letter 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 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 or business. You should contact a certified plumber to aid you for the part of this process that will take place inside your home or business.
- On the day work starts, the water connection will be switched from the water main to the temporary water connection. You may experience a brief interruption in water supply. You will not need to boil your water.
- A work zone will be put into place.
- 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 the 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 may cause delays.
- You will receive frequent updates on the status of the project.
Lead Water Pipes
If you have lead pipes in your home or business, work will extend inside.
- Your plumber will cut a hole by the foundation or in your basement to show where and how pipes are connected so they can be replaced.
- The lead pipe between your home or business 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 and inside. In some cases the tunnel that contained the lead pipes between the building and the road is not stable enough for the new pipe to be pushed through. In this situation, a trench between the building and the road will be dug. When work is complete, the hole will be filled with soil, the road will be repaved, 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.
The cost of service pipe replacements is split, with 60% paid by the City and 40% paid by the homeowner. For residents and businesses that choose to utilize the City's contractor, there is a variety of payment options for residents and business owners who will have lead water service pipes replaced.
There is an option of paying in full when the work is complete or having the costs added to the following year’s taxes. Under the program, three and five-year repayment period options are also be available. There will continue to be alternatives for low-income property owners who quality and all repayment plans are interest-free.
As of January 1, 2017 new payment options were offered to homeowners who had their connection replacement on or after this date. 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.
- 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.
- As of April 1st, 2017 all contracts are to include PST.
- Pay the contractor directly in full once the work is done.
- Choose a 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. It would be due on June 30 if you pay your taxes in full. If you are on the TIPPS program, you would make 12 equal payments starting in January and ending in December.
- 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. 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. 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.
- 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. 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. 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.
- 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. 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. 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.
Is my water safe?
The City's water supply is safe. 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.
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 through 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 is 100 times lower than the Health Canada limit. There are still properties in Saskatoon that 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.
A goal to replace lead pipes that link older homes and businesses to Saskatoon’s main water supply is progressing as planned. In 2017, the City committed to removing all underground pipes containing lead and install lead-free ones within 10 years. The work is being done in conjunction with necessary water main and road upgrades. Of the 4,900 lead water service connections identified in 2017, over 2,500 have already been replaced (as of the fall of 2019). The City expects to have all connections replaced by the end of 2026, completing nearly 500 every year.
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. Call: 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?
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.