EPA Launches New Initiative in Connecticut to Accelerate Lead Pipe Replacement to Protect Underserved Communities
New partnership with state will help communities access funds from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead service line removal and replacement
CONNECTICUT (January 27, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce a major new initiative to accelerate progress toward the Biden-Harris Administration's goal of achieving 100% lead service line removal and replacement. The "Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators" initiative will be introduced during a White House convening with Vice President Kamala Harris and EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, alongside state and local leaders celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. The new Accelerator will provide targeted technical assistance services to help underserved communities access funds from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and replace lead pipes that pose risks to the health of children and families. The initiative is a partnership with the Department of Labor, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin and will work with 40 communities across those states in 2023.
"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."
"Protecting children and families by reducing lead exposure is a top priority for EPA under the Biden-Harris Administration, and when you turn on your tap you should never have to worry about what's in the water," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "Through EPA's Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerator, and through our partnership with the State of Connecticut, we can fast-track resources and assistance for Connecticut communities who need it most."
Through the Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Accelerators, EPA will provide hands-on support to guide communities through the process of lead service line removals, from start to finish. This will 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. As a result, more communities will be able to access their fair share of federal funds to secure a lead-free future.
Partnership is core to the LSLR Accelerators initiative. EPA will collaborate each step of the way with Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin and applauds their leadership in seeking innovative new ways to accelerate lead pipe removal. The Accelerators initiative will support these states in more strategically deploying funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) for lead service line replacements while developing best practices and creative approaches that can serve as a roadmap for the rest of the country. As this program moves forward, EPA and the Department of Labor will collaborate to provide tools aimed at increasing job quality standards, equity, and resources to accelerate the development of the skilled water workforce needed to undertake these community and system-wide lead service line replacement programs.
"Connecticut is proud to be one of the four states involved with the Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators Community Initiative which is critical toward investing in safe drinking water and ultimately protecting the health of our communities," said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. "The Lead Service Line Accelerators will address existing barriers and accelerate progress on these projects. Inviting input from our residents, providing educational resources, and engaging affected members of the community are necessary components in identifying and ultimately replacing these lead service lines."
"This initiative will help rid water of one of the most pernicious poisons— lead— that can do irreversible, crippling damage to children and families. People deserve clean, healthy water and these new pipes will make it possible. The federal legislation replacing lead service lines is a godsend for safe drinking water," said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.
"Too many families in Connecticut face serious health risks because their water flows through old lead pipes. Everyone needs access to clean, safe drinking water, and I'm glad to see funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law put these pipe replacement projects on a fast track," said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.
"Lead service removal is pivotal to keeping families and our communities safe," said U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro. "This initiative announced by the Biden-Harris Administration is welcome news, and puts us on a path to reduce lead exposure and enhance the safety of those most at-risk to lead poisoning. Too many families and children across Connecticut are still impacted by lead pipes, and we know this poses a serious long-term threat to children's health. With the help of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are now leveraging every tool to deliver clean drinking water and replace lead pipes."
"The Connecticut Congressional delegation worked together to secure a historic investment in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve our state's water infrastructure," said U.S. Representative John B. Larson. "The Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerator will ensure communities have the resources and assistance they need to safely remove and replace lead pipes, and make safe drinking water for all residents a reality."
"People throughout eastern Connecticut are seeing long-overdue infrastructure projects finally getting underway and completed thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law we passed in late 2021," said U.S. Representative Joe Courtney. "The IIJA has brought about improved roads and bridges, major investments in our local economy like support for the new Train Station in Enfield and the new deepwater port in New London, and now it's going to help improve the health and wellbeing of residents throughout our state by helping us replace old lead service lines—an important but costly project that has long been out of reach for local municipal budgets. It wasn't long ago that the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers graded our state's wastewater infrastructure at a paltry D+, but with funding through the IIJA we've finally got the resources to change that. I'm proud to have voted for the bipartisan Infrastructure Law."
"It is unconscionable that all communities in our state do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Every American deserves access to this basic right, and I am glad that the Administration and the EPA are using funding from Congress' Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to rectify that issue. Connecticut's partnership in this program will help pave the way to protect children across the country from lead-related health risks," said U.S. Representative Jim Himes.
"Every community deserves access to clean drinking water. This new initiative will expeditiously replace centuries-old lead pipes that continue to contaminate water in our most vulnerable cities. These critical upgrades and technical assistance will directly impact the health and safety of Connecticut families while promoting economic development in historically underserved areas. I applaud the administration for its commitment to delivering clean drinking water and fortifying our water infrastructure. I look forward to working with federal, state, and local leaders to make a lead-free future a reality," said U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes.
The LSLR Accelerators initiative represents another step forward by the Biden-Harris Administration to achieve 100% lead free water systems. President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invested an unprecedented $50 billion in the nation's water and wastewater infrastructure, including $15 billion dedicated to lead service line replacement and $11.7 billion of general Drinking Water State Revolving Funds that can also be used for lead service line replacement. And in 2021, with the boost from these water infrastructure investments, the Biden-Harris Administration released its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. EPA is committed to this work and using every tool available— statutory authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act, technical assistance, funding for lead service line replacement, and more—to protect all Americans from lead in drinking water.
With the help of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, EPA is strengthening its technical assistance efforts in order to ensure every community gets its fair share of this historic investment. For more information about water technical assistance for communities and the Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/water-infrastructure/water-technical-assistance.
All communities deserve access to safe, clean, lead-free water. Yet too many families and children across America are still impacted by lead pipes. The science is clear that lead pipes pose serious health risks, particularly for children. However, many communities, particularly underserved communities and communities in rural and inner urban areas, lack necessary tools and resources to make rapid progress on lead service line replacement.
The primary source of lead in drinking water, when present, is pipes. Lead can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels and can accumulate in the body over time. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.