Lead in Drinking Water

In March 2019, Health Canada lowered the national guideline for lead in drinking water from a maximum acceptable concentration of 0.01 milligrams per litre (mg/L) to 0.005 mg/L based on a sample of water taken at the consumer tap. Manitoba adopted this new guideline as a drinking water quality standard in 2020.

Lead is not natural to Manitoba source waters. It is introduced into drinking water through corrosion of lead-bearing materials in service lines to homes and buildings, and in plumbing systems and fixtures. The only way to detect if a home or building has lead in its drinking water is to test at the taps.

For more information about lead in drinking water, click on the drop-down menu options below.

Communities, Home and Building Owners

Residential Lead Monitoring Program

To help water systems implement Health Canada’s new, more stringent national guideline on lead in drinking water, the Office of Drinking Water, in collaboration with Manitoba Health, has established the Residential Lead Monitoring Program. Municipalities implementing the Program communicate information about lead to residents, work with home owners to collect water samples, share test results, and provide direction/advice when results are high.

Water system owners and operators requiring further information on the program and how to implement, should visit:  Monitoring for Lead at the Tap – Operational Guideline for Manitoba Water Suppliers.

Home and Building Owners

Homes and buildings built before 1990 might have lead in the plumbing, which could include lead service lines, lead plumbing fixtures, and solder. This can increase lead levels in the tap water in these homes and buildings. The older the home or building the greater the risk.

Community Initiatives for Lead in Drinking Water

A number of Manitoba municipalities have their own webpages on lead in drinking water. Visit their sites to learn about the action being taken to address elevated lead levels within their communities.

Schools and Child Care Centres

Lead in Drinking Water Grant for Schools and Child Care Centres

To support schools and child care centres in protecting children from the harmful effects of lead, the Manitoba government created the Lead in Drinking Water Grant. Funds are available until March 31, 2025  and can be used by schools and child care centres to test drinking water for lead and carry out mitigation work (e.g., plumbing work, filters for drinking water taps, etc.) where test results are above the national guideline.

All eligible schools and child care centres are strongly encouraged to participate.

For more information about the grant, visit: Lead in Drinking Water Grant

Where lead levels are above the national guideline, immediate action should be taken to reduce exposure. For more information on how to interpret test results and take corrective actions, visit: Corrective Actions for Schools, Child Care Centres and Large Buildings.

Schools and Child Care Centres Testing and Mitigation Progress Update

Manitoba schools and child care centres have been working diligently to test their drinking water taps for lead and address problems, should they arise. A significant number have had no issues with lead, and the vast majority of schools that did have lead levels above the national guidelines have already taken action to address the problem.

Schools and child care centres are encouraged to share information with their communities about their lead in drinking water results and the corrective actions taken. For support in communicating this information, please see: 

Addressing lead is an ongoing effort, and schools continue to test, mitigate and monitor their drinking water for lead. In 2023, public schools in Manitoba reported on the progress of their testing and mitigation efforts to Environment and Climate Change. A summary of self-reported results as of May 1, 2023 is below:

For individual school or school division progress, visit: Manitoba Public Schools: Lead Testing and Mitigation Results (2023) or Écoles publiques du Manitoba: Résultats des analyses et des mesures d’atténuation (2003). This link summarizes (1) whether an individual school has undertaken testing, (2) whether any test results were elevated, and (3) whether mitigation activities have been completed for taps with elevated results. The school testing and mitigation results will be updated periodically as schools update their progress. Independent school and child care centre results will be posted in 2024.

Schools or school divisions may have additional information available on their websites.

Lead in Drinking Water Compliance Recognition Campaign

A recognition campaign has been developed which visually identifies schools and child care centres that meet the lead standard for drinking water. This campaign recognizes a facilities’ commitment to supporting safe drinking water, and provides visual assurance to parents and others that steps have been taken to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. The campaign consists of an official “Certified Lead Tested” sticker to be placed at the main entrance of the facility.

To receive a compliance sticker, a school or child care centre must have test results that show lead levels from their drinking water taps are below the national guideline (0.005 mg/L) following initial testing or following successful mitigation efforts (re-tests).

The sticker acknowledges that, at the time of issuance, lead levels in the drinking water were below the national guideline, however, ongoing monitoring may be required to ensure levels remain under 0.005 mg/L.

Any schools and child care centres interested in receiving a sticker should send their test results to the Office of Drinking Water at odw@gov.mb.ca.

Further Information

For schools and child care centres:

For parents and caregivers: 


If you have any questions, please consult or reach out to one of the resources below:

For questions related to the Lead in Drinking Water Grant:

Manitoba Environmental Industries Association

For health-related concerns:

For more information, visit Manitoba Health’s Be Lead Aware site: https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/offices.html

If you have any health concerns about lead exposures, you can:

For questions on the status of testing and mitigation:

For information on testing, correction action and mitigation work conducted at your school, contact your school division or school:

Manitoba School Divisions and Districts - https://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/schools/sb_contacts.html
Schools in Manitoba - https://web.gov.mb.ca/school/school?action=top_page

For other Inquiries:
Office of Drinking Water