Bill offering utility companies safeguards for replacing lead pipes passes Senate committee | Politics
INDIANAPOLIS – A 2023 report The study, conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, found Indiana ranks 14th in the U.S. when it comes to the most lead pipes.
Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, introduces his Senate Bill 5 before the Senate Utilities Committee on Thursday.
To address this and advance the elimination of all lead pipes in Indiana, Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, resigned Senate Bill 5, before the Senate Utilities Committee on Thursday. The bill provides additional protections for utilities attempting to replace or remove lead pipes on private property.
During the 2017 legislative session, Indiana lawmakers agreed House Enrolled Act 1519, which established Indiana’s Lead Service Line (LSL) program. This program was created to help utility companies cover the cost of replacing customer-owned lead service lines, which are lead pipes that connect street lines to a building or home.
Prior to HEA 1519, property owners were responsible for replacing or decommissioning pipes, which can be costly. Lead pipes are a concern because lead exposure can cause various neurological problems in children and adults.
Several members of the public and utility experts came to testify in support of SB 5.
Dr. Blake A. Froberg. The medical director of the Indiana Poison Center opened the meeting by explaining the dangers of lead toxicity, particularly as it relates to children.
“The Indiana Poison Center is receiving calls about lead poisoning patients that are likely more complex and difficult to treat,” Froberg said. “Over the last six years, we have helped care for 180 children with lead poisoning.”
Froberg said children are most vulnerable to lead poisoning because their brains are still developing. Depending on the level of stress, children may experience developmental delays or brain swelling.
Representatives from Citizens Energy Group, Indiana American Water and Fort Wayne City Utilities all came to share the success they have had with the program so far. Their only common concern was the inability to contact all homeowners and landlords in their service area – a problem that SB 5 aims to solve.
SB 5 would allow utilities to submit their service line replacement request to the property owner at no charge. If the owner does not elect to participate in the program within 45 days, they will be forced to remove their lines or shut down another contractor at their own expense.
The bill originally also allowed utilities to proceed with removal without the property owner’s consent, but Koch removed that language with his own Change 2.
The only other amendment submitted was Change 5written by Sen. Andrea Hunley, D-Indianapolis.
Hunley said this last year House Bill 1138 Although she has made good progress in implementing lead testing in preschool children’s drinking water, she wants to see Indiana take another step toward preventing lead exposure in non-preschool settings.
Hunley received support from Koch and the rest of the committee and the amendment passed.
The amended bill passed unanimously 10-0.
Ashlyn Myers is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website run by Franklin College journalism students.