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EPA plan would eliminate lead pipes within 10 years

The Biden administration has issued its plan to use $15 billion to rid U.S. homes of lead pipes, which can lead to long-term health complications.
EPA plan would eliminate lead pipes within 10 years
Posted at 7:57 AM, Nov 30, 2023

The Biden administration announced a proposal that would replace all lead pipes leading to households in the U.S. within the next 10 years while improving sampling protocols used by public water systems. 

The proposed rule would involve providing funds for local organizations to replace lead pipes, help with locating local legacy lead pipes and improving tap water sampling. 

Nearly $50 billion has been allocated by Congress to upgrade the nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Of that $50 billion, $15 billion has been dedicated toward replacing lead service lines. 

“Lead in drinking water is a generational public health issue, and EPA’s proposal will accelerate progress towards President Biden’s goal of replacing every lead pipe across America once and for all,” said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan. “With collaboration and the focused actions proposed today, EPA is delivering on our charge to protect all Americans, especially communities of color, that are disproportionately harmed by lead in drinking water systems.”

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Earlier this year, the EPA released findings that indicated 9.2 million households still used lead pipes to provide drinking water. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are no safe levels of lead in drinking water. Childhood lead exposure can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems, the CDC said. 

Lead can enter drinking water when pipes corrode from water. 

"Because no safe blood level has been identified for young children, all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated," the CDC said.

The EPA has already started a lead pipe replacement program in several cities, including Newark, New Jersey, and Benton Harbor, Michigan. So far, the EPA has awarded over $3.5 billion in funding for lead service line replacement across the country.   

“Here in Newark, New Jersey, our community persevered through a lead crisis and I’m proud of the work we did removing all 23,000 lead pipes in the city in under three years,” said Kareem Adeem, director of the Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities. "EPA’s new proposed rule will prompt more communities across the country to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. This action is commendable and represents a positive step forward toward safeguarding the health and well-being of current and future generations.”

The EPA said it has launched the Get the Lead Out Initiative, which will partner with 200 communities to help them identify lead service lines and develop replacement plans. 

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