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$3B Unveiled for Lead Service Line Replacement

FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2024


Yesterday (May 2), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted $3 billion to help every state and territory find and replace lead service lines, protecting drinking water from future exposure risks.

The funding reportedly comes from President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda, funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law, and will build upon the administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan and the EPA’s Get the Lead Out Initiative.

Funding will reportedly be available through the EPA’s successful Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).

About the Funding

The EPA and the State Revolving Funds are reportedly working to advance the Justice40 Initiative to put 40% of overall benefits from certain federal investments towards disadvantaged communities that have been hurt by underinvestment and pollution.

The $9 billion in total funding announced through EPA’s Lead Service Line Replacement DWSRF program is expected to help replace around 1.7 million lead pipes.

“The science is clear, there is no safe level of lead exposure, and the primary source of harmful exposure in drinking water is through lead pipes,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. 

“President Biden understands it is critical to identify and remove lead pipes as quickly as possible, and he has secured significant resources for states and territories to accelerate the permanent removal of dangerous lead pipes once and for all.”

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Yesterday (May 2), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted $3 billion to help every state and territory find and replace lead service lines, protecting drinking water from future exposure risks.
carterdayne / Getty Images

Yesterday (May 2), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted $3 billion to help every state and territory find and replace lead service lines, protecting drinking water from future exposure risks.

The bipartisan infrastructure law has reportedly invested $15 billion to replace lead service lines, also requiring 49% of funds provided through the DWSRF General Supplemental Funding and DWSRF Lead Service Line Replacement funding to be provided as grants and forgivable loans to disadvantaged communities.

The EPA has projected a national total of 9 million lead services lines across the country, based on data collected from the updated "7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA)" The funding is expected to further help states and territories fund projects that remove lead pipes and reduce exposure to lead from drinking water.

This latest round of funding will reportedly work to ensure that more families benefit from these resources, supporting projects that include:

  • West View Water Authority in Pennsylvania was given $8 million to replace 750 lead service lines in underserved areas of the community—mainly in Allegheny County. Of that funding, over $5.4 million is forgivable, reducing the overall financial burden on ratepayers and the community;  
  • Tucson, Arizona, received $6.95 million to develop lead service line inventories for their nine public water systems. The city will use this inventory to develop a plan to replace lead service lines in the community and improve drinking water quality for residents;
  • Kenosha, Wisconsin, has reportedly been at the front of the state’s efforts to remove 5,000 lead service lines in their community. To speed up lead service line removal, Kenosha is working with the EPA’s bipartisan infrastructure law-funded Water TA team to help customers self-inventory their service line material and apply for federal funding to remove and replace lead service lines; and
  • The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, located across western North Carolina, will reportedly receive support from the lead service line replacement funds to conduct service line inventories and prepare preliminary engineering reports for five of the public water systems on their land.

The Lead Service Line-specific formula used to give out these funds has provided financial assistance commensurate with their need as soon as possible. The formula and allotments are reportedly based on need so that states with more projected lead service lines receive more funding.

Along with the latewst funding, the EPA also plans to release a new memorandum clarifying how states can use this and other funding to better reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.

Additionally, the EPA reportedly developed more outreach documents for water systems to notify their customers about drinking water issues, health impacts of lead exposure, service line ownership and how customers can help with the identification of potential lead service lines in their homes.

The new allotments are reportedly based on the EPA’s updated 7th DWINSA Report, including an assessment of newly submitted information.

Later this summer, the EPA also plans to release an addendum to the 7th DWINSA Report to Congress, including the updated lead service line projections. The EPA reportedly expects initiating data collection, including information on lead service lines, for the eighth DWINSA in 2025.

Lead Replacement Plans

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In December of last year, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a proposal to its Lead and Copper Rule, with the goal of replacing all lead service lines within the next 10 years. According to the EPA's release, the administration also proposed other improvements to protect public health, like lowering the lead action level and upgrading sampling protocols used by water systems.

The release added that the proposals were meant to help advance Biden’s plan to remove every lead service line in the country and help mitigate the negative impacts of lead in drinking water.

The proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements were to act as an advancement in protecting people from the health effects from lead in drinking water. In addition to fully removing lead service lines, major provisions in the proposal included:

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  • Locating legacy lead pipes;
  • Improving tap sampling;
  • Lowering the Lead Action Level; and
  • Strengthening protections to reduce exposure.

The release stated that the proposals would also require water systems to actively communicate more often with consumers about lead service lines and future plans for replacing them.

The Fact Sheet included that over 9.2 million American households are connected to water through lead pipes and lead service lines. Because of decades of unjust infrastructure development and underinvestment, lead exposure has reportedly impacted low-income communities and communities of color.

Through the bipartisan infrastructure law, $15 billion was given in funding for the replacement of lead service lines, along with $11.7 billion in general-purpose funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, to be used for lead pipe replacement.

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According to the Fact Sheet, the EPA awarded over $3.5 billion of this lead service line funding to replace hundreds of thousands of lead service lines in homes, buildings and schools.

Additionally, the EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs reportedly granted over $796 million to aid systems that service disadvantaged communities and begin the removal of lead service lines across the country.

The EPA also began the Get the Lead Out (GLO) Initiative, a partnership with 200 underserved communities nationwide to provide the technical assistance that is necessary to gain funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law and remove lead service lines from their communities.

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The EPA stated that it is taking a full and detailed approach to getting the lead out, including:

  • Regulatory Framework – the EPA’s proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements follow the science and EPA’s authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act to strengthen regulatory requirements and address lead in drinking water;
  • Funding – the bipartisan infrastructure law gave $50 billion to support upgrades to the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, including $15 billion to lead service line replacement and $11.7 billion of general Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, also for lead service line replacement. To date, the EPA has awarded over $3.5 billion in funding for lead service line replacement across the country;
  • Technical Assistance – the EPA’s water technical assistance (WaterTA), including the recently launched Get the Lead Out Initiative; and
  • Practical Implementation Tools – through training, tools, webinars and case studies, EPA provides support to drinking water systems to reduce lead exposure.
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Tagged categories: Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Funding; Grants; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Lead; Lead; Lead rule; non-potable water; Pipelines; Pipes; potable water; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Safety; Water/Wastewater


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