EPA announces nearly $44M for Missouri Lead Pipe Replacement to advance safe drinking water – Newstalk KZRG

LENEXA, Kan. (MAY 2, 2024) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allocated $43,966,000 from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to help Missouri identify and replace lead service lines to prevent lead contamination in drinking water. Lead can cause a range of serious health effects, including irreversible damage to brain development in children.

Today's announcement, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and available through EPA's successful Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), is another important step to advance this work and the administration's commitment to environmental justice. This funding builds on the administration's Action Plan on Lead Pipes and Paint and EPA's Get the Lead Out initiative.

Working together, EPA and State Revolving Funds are advancing the President's Justice40 initiative to ensure that 40% of total benefits from certain federal investments benefit disadvantaged communities marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. Lead exposure disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income families. The total funds announced to date under this program are expected to replace up to 1.7 million lead pipes nationwide, providing clean drinking water to countless families.

“The science is clear: There is no safe level of lead exposure, and the primary source of harmful exposure in drinking water is lead pipes,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “President Biden understands that it is critical to identify and remove lead pipes as quickly as possible, and he has provided significant resources to states and territories to accelerate the permanent removal of dangerous lead pipes once and for all.”

“We know that young children are most affected by lead exposure,” said Meghan A. McCollister, EPA Region 7 director. “This historic funding to replace lead service lines is an important step toward a healthier future for our Heartland communities and future generations.”

“Every American deserves to be assured that they and their loved ones have access to safe, clean, and uncontaminated drinking water—but with the hundreds of thousands of lead pipes still in use in Missouri, far too often that is not the case,” said U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-5). “However, thanks to President Biden’s leadership and the passage of his bipartisan infrastructure bill, Missouri will use this $44 million to identify and replace the lead pipes that are putting public health at risk. This investment is a testament to what can be accomplished when lawmakers put politics aside and focus on the needs of our communities, and I was proud to help make that happen with my support of the President’s infrastructure bill.”

“The Department of Natural Resources is pleased to provide these funds to Missouri's drinking water systems for lead service inventory and replacement,” said Dru Buntin, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “These funds will help our systems ensure their customers receive safe drinking water from their taps.”

President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill invests a historic $15 billion to identify and replace lead service lines. The bill requires that 49% of the funds provided by DWSRF general supplemental funding and DWSRF lead service line replacement funding be awarded as grants and forgiven loans to disadvantaged communities, a critical investment for communities that have been underinvested in for too long.

Based on data from the updated 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, EPA projects a total of 9 million lead service lines nationwide. The funds announced today will be specifically allocated to identify and replace lead service lines and help each state and territory fund projects to remove lead pipes and reduce lead exposure in drinking water.

This formula, specific to lead service lines, allows states to receive financial assistance that meets their needs as quickly as possible, thereby promoting public health protection across the country. To ensure that funds are used for lead service line-related activities, the LSLR allocation is need-based, meaning that states with more planned lead service lines receive proportionally more funds.

In addition to the funding announced today, EPA is also releasing a new memorandum that clarifies how states can use this and other funding to most effectively reduce lead contamination in drinking water. In addition, EPA has developed new informational documents to help water utilities educate their customers about drinking water issues, the health effects of lead contamination, service line ownership, and how customers can help identify potential lead service lines in their homes.

For stories about how the bipartisan infrastructure bill's unprecedented investments are transforming communities across the country, see EPA's Investing in America's Water Infrastructure story map. For more information on other ongoing projects, see EPA's recently released Quarterly Report on Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF Projects Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the State Revolving Funds public portal.

Today's allocations are based on EPA's updated 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA), including an evaluation of one-time update submissions. To date, this is the best available data collected and evaluated on utility line materials in the United States. Later this summer, EPA will release an addendum to the 7th DWINSA report to Congress that will include the updated lead utility line projections. EPA expects to begin data collection for the 8th DWINSA in 2025, which will include information on lead utility lines.

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