White House Unveils New Lead Removal Initiatives

TUESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2023


Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions and progress to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes and remediate lead paint based on the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.

The announcement was made at a White House Summit on Accelerating Lead Pipe Replacement hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, who noted that the Administration is delivering tangible progress on the plan to replace all lead service lines in the country in the next decade.

The Summit featured discussions with state and local officials, along with water utility, labor union and nongovernmental partners, on reducing risks to public health posed by lead pipes.

According to the White House’s fact sheet, the two new major actions include the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership in collaboration with more than 100 state and local leaders, nongovernmental organizations, water utilities, labor unions and others; and the creation of Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Accelerators through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Get the Lead Out Partnership leverages existing efforts and funding to accelerate the replacement of lead service lines and pipes by the end of the decade, as well as creating good paying jobs and prioritizing lead remediation efforts in underserved communities.

The LSLR Accelerators program will provide start to finish, hands-on support to guide communities through the process of lead service line removals. This will reportedly include support in developing lead service line replacement plans, conducting inventories to identify lead pipes, increasing community outreach and education efforts, and supporting applications for bipartisan infrastructure law funding. 

“The science is clear—there is no safe level of exposure to lead,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA is committed to partnering with states and communities to protect children and families and ensure our nation's drinking water pipes are lead-free.

“Our Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators demonstrate our commitment to ensuring every community has access to safe, clean drinking water. By leveraging the historic investment made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are moving one step closer to achieving President Biden’s vision of 100% lead-free water systems for all,” Regan added.

Additionally, at the time of the announcement, the EPA announced that $1.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law revolving loan funds have already reached 23 states for lead service line identification and replacement. 

Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan

At the end of 2021, the White House released its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes and remediate lead paint. The goal of the plan is to replace all lead pipes in the next decade.

According to the White House, at the time, approximately 10 million American households and 400,000 schools land childcare centers are served by a lead service line or pipe. About 24 million housing units have lead-based paint hazards, which reportedly 4 million of house young children.

The plan, according to the White House Fact Sheet, features 15 new actions with more than 10 federal agencies. These actions are divided into three categories: getting resources to communities; updating rules and strengthening enforcement; and reducing exposure in disadvantaged communities, schools, daycare centers and public housing, including:

  • Announcing $2.9 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law for lead pipe replacement to states, tribes and territories;
  • Committing to issue national bipartisan infrastructure law water investments guidance to states;
  • Clarifying state, local and tribal governments can use fiscal recovery funds—the $350 billion aid provided under the American Rescue Plan—for replacing lead service lines and protecting communities against lead in water;
  • Establishing regional technical assistance hubs to fast track lead service line removal projects;
  • Awarding grants to protect children and families from lead paint and home health hazards;
  • Leveraging existing U.S. Department of Agriculture funding to replace lead service lines;
  • Directing federal agencies to leverage existing funding;
  • Announcing the development of a new regulation to protect communities from lead in drinking water;
  • Committing to publish new guidance on lead service lines;
  • Closing gaps in childhood lead testing;
  • Tracking the benefits of lead pipe and paint investments in line with Justice40;
  • Committing to remove lead service lines and paint hazards in housing;
  • Releasing an updated strategy to reduce lead exposure; and
  • Establishing a new cabinet level partnership for lead remediation in schools and daycare centers.

The Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Childcare Centers will include partnerships between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA.

In terms of funding, in addition to the $350 billion provided in the American Rescue Plan, the White House is investing:

  • $15 billion of direct funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead service line replacements at EPA through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), and an additional $11.7 billion in SRF funding for which lead pipes replacement is eligible;
  • $9 billion in the Build Back Better Act for lead remediation grants to disadvantaged communities through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) program, including for schools and childcare centers at EPA;
  • $1 billion in the Build Back Better Act for rural water utilities to remove lead pipes at the USDA;
  • $5 billion in the Build Back Better Act for the mitigation and removal of lead-based paint, lead faucets and fixtures, and other housing-related health hazards in low-income households, by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and
  • $65 billion of Build Back Better Act funding for public housing agencies and $5 billion for other federally-assisted housing preservation and rehabilitation, which public housing agencies and owners can use to improve housing quality; this can include replacing lead pipes and privately-owned service lines.

The White House states that low-income people and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to the risks of lead-contaminated drinking water, including Non-Hispanic Black people being more than twice as likely as Non-Hispanic White people to live in moderately or severely substandard housing.

The EPA’s 2021 Economic Analysis on the benefits of lead service line replacement showed significant increases in lifetime earnings, associated with avoided intelligence quotient (IQ) loss in children, as well as reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and other adverse health effects.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Government; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Lead; Lead; Lead paint abatement; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Lead rule; NA; North America; Pipes; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Water/Wastewater

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