Saskatoon

Lead pipe replacement could cost some Saskatoon homeowners thousands of dollars

About 350 homeowners in the city could be facing a big bill from the city if they are forced to remove lead pipes on their property.

Roughly 350 homes in city still have lead lines on their property, despite City changing over its portion

About 350 homeowners could be slapped with a large bill if they are forced to replace their lead water connections on their side of the property. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

About 350 homeowners in the city could be facing a big bill from the city if they are forced to remove lead pipes on their property.

The affected homes historically decided against removing lead pipes on their portion of the property, while the city was replacing its water connections.

The decision could cost homeowners between $7,500 and $9,000, with the option of paying the money back through property tax.

The amount far exceeds the capped amount of $3,500 homeowners are currently paying as the city systematically removes all lead water pipes from Saskatoon's water system.

"The reality is because of the previous decision that was made, it's going to be more expensive than it would be for for others," said Mayor Charlie Clark. 

"And so there's an imbalance in terms of cost."

Prior to 2010, homeowners could choose to opt out of changing over their portion of their water lines if the city changed over its section. Since then, it has become mandatory.

The city's service lines are normally switched out if the cast iron mains were being replaced, if there was leakage or if the line was under a right-of-way that was undergoing treatment.

The cost to remove the old lines would be much higher since it's not part of a larger project.

The City of Saskatoon's goal is to replace all of the city's lead service lines by the end of 2026.

Complicating the matter further, more than half of the affected homes have been sold since the work was done, meaning current home owners may have no idea they still have lead connections into their homes.

At a committee meeting on Monday, councillors were presented with several options, including leaving the pipes as-is, requiring property owners to pay the full amount of the replacement or share the costs between the property owners and the city.

City councillors agreed to defer the discussion until August, and allow city administration to discuss the issue with the affected homeowners.

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