On December 19, 2023, Governor Kathy Hochul signed it P.5512 / A.6115known as the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act.
Lead is a toxic heavy metal that has significant adverse health effects, particularly in children, and experts agree that there is no safe limit for lead exposure. You can’t see, smell or taste lead, so it’s important to know if lead might be present in your drinking water.
A source of lead contamination in drinking water lies in the lead service lines and connections that transport drinking water from the street water main to homes. Lead leaks from lead service lines and fittings into the water when a chemical reaction called corrosion occurs. Lead can also chip into pieces if the pipes and fittings are damaged due to construction or maintenance work on or near the utility lines.
The Federal Environment Agency Estimates that there are at least 494,000 lead service lines in the state, making New York one of the six states with the most lead service lines. New York, like every other state, is preparing a statewide inventory, collecting information from nearly 2,900 public water providers. This inventory is due October 16, 2024.
Public access to this information has been an important concern for public health and environmental justice advocates. Thanks to this new law, the information collected by the New York State Department of Health will now be made publicly available through datasets and ultimately visualization (iemapping). Additionally, all water utilities are required to update their inventories with new information every year because it can take years to fully understand how many lead pipes there are and how quickly they are being removed.
Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, “For far too long, lead pipes that supply drinking water to our homes have been a clear and present danger.” The Lead Pipe Right to Know Act is an important step toward solving this problem . We thank Governor Hochul for working with Senator Rivera and Representative Paulin to shed light on this critical issue.”
This sensible law is a fundamental step towards transparency and action. Requiring lead pipe location data to be made available to the public online will empower New Yorkers to learn about potential risks in their area and protect themselves and their families. Knowing how many lead pipes there are and where they are located allows state and local decision makers to have an informed conversation about the financial resources, labor and materials needed to remove them once and for all.
We will keep you updated on the status of this law and report to you as datasets and maps become available.