NYLCV Joins the White House and EPA in Nationwide Partnership To Remove Lead Service Lines
Articles | February 16, 2023
By Peter Aronson
Lead service lines pose a threat to drinking water quality. These pipes, which connect water mains to the internal plumbing in homes and other buildings, can expose people to a dangerous neurotoxin when they turn on the tap. There is no safe level of lead in drinking water; infants and fetuses are especially at risk.
The New York League of Conservation Voters has signed on to support a new partnership between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the White House, and communities across the country to remove lead service lines by the end of this decade.
“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.”
In becoming one of the 123 inaugural members of the partnership, the NYLCV is continuing its advocacy in encouraging and working with the government to eliminate lead in our drinking water.
In this wide partnership of groups from all across the country, the White House is bringing together the federal government with states, tribes, local communities, water utilities, labor unions, private companies and advocacy groups like NYLCV, to commit to a plan of health-informed, justice-centered principles of lead service line replacement. This group of national, state and local leaders will meet several times a year to identify new opportunities and actions that can be taken together to help meet the Biden Administration’s commitment to 100 % lead free drinking water in America this decade, while simultaneously creating good paying jobs and prioritizing lead remediation in overburdened and underserved communities.
“This initiative will include the development of best practices and creative approaches that can serve as a roadmap for the rest of the country,” the White House said.
Among the 123 members of the partnership, they include the following New York State cities or towns: Albany, Bethlehem, Buffalo, Newburgh, Rochester and Syracuse.
Although the Flint, Michigan, crisis may have been the wake-up call the nation needed to act on this issue, the truth is, lead in our country’s drinking water has been and remains a nationwide problem, impacting residents in all 50 states, including New York State.
In July 2021, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported that New York state had 360,000 lead pipes delivering water to people’s homes, the fourth highest total of any state in the country. The survey by NRDC reported that between 9.7 million and 12.8 million lead pipes in all 50 states carry drinking water into homes, impacting as many as 12 million people.
The Biden Administration has said in the past that 10 million households get water through lead pipes and service lines and that children in 400,000 schools and child care facilities are at risk of exposure to lead in their water.
In December 2021, the White House unveiled the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to remove lead in pipes nationwide by the end of the decade. In June 2022, the administration announced that more than $4 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and annual appropriations can be used to begin replacing America’s lead pipes. This included $500 million for states and local governments.
This new partnership builds on these earlier announcements. Among the goals of this new EPA-White House partnership are:
- Prioritize lead remediation efforts in overburdened and underserved communities;
- Promote the replacement of the entire lead service line, both the portion owned by the utility and the portion owned by the homeowner;
- Explore all possible funding avenues to ensure quick implementation;
- Promote health-cased blood testing, particularly in schools and childcare facilities;
- Ensure robust community engagement through early and continued communication and planning;
- Use innovative data, science, modeling and mapping to mitigate the problem; and
- Use best practices to hire individual plumbers, municipal labor, large firms and apprentice programs and prioritize local and unionized workers wherever possible.
We applaud the announcement by the White House and the EPA to move forward with this new program. We are proud to be an active participant. We will continue our advocacy work in this area, including making sure state and local governments take action to make sure all New Yorkers have safe, lead-free drinking water. Removing lead in New York’s drinking water is a significant health issue and our organization vows to work with the Biden Administration, Gov. Hochul, state and local leaders and advocacy groups to see that our collective goals are met.< Back to Citizen’s Toolkit
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