Six months since the President and Vice President unveiled the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, the Administration has taken swift action and made quick progress. The Biden-Harris Administration has announced more than $4 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds and annual appropriations that can we used to begin replacing all of America’s lead pipes while mobilizing additional resources and tools to get rid of lead, ensure Americans can drink clean water, and live in healthy homes.
Today, to continue momentum implementing the action plan, Vice President Harris, Human and Urban Development Secretary Fudge, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan are in Pittsburgh to provide an update on the Administration’s commitment to addressing lead pipes and paint, including through announcing $500 million for states and local government to reduce lead exposure and build healthier homes. States and localities can begin applying for the awards, which will target disadvantaged communities in line with the President’s Justice40 Initiative.
President Biden and Vice President Harris believe no child, no family, and no American should drink water with lead or be exposed to lead paint in their homes. That’s why they made replacing lead pipes a centerpiece of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and why Vice President Harris visited AFL-CIO to release the action plan that helps ensure federal, state, and local resources are moving quickly. Together, their leadership, vision, and actions are removing lead from water and homes, creating good-paying jobs, and supporting the low-income and communities of color disproportionately impacted.
Outlined below is how the Administration is making critical progress on the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan:
Tackling Lead Pipes and Paint with Historic Investments
- Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making $500 million available for states and local governments to protect children and families from lead-based paint and other home health hazards, targeting the awards to disadvantaged communities, in line with the Justice40 Initiative, by including rating points based on the percentage of the area the grant will target that are disadvantaged communities.
- In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum to guide collaborative implementation with state, local, and Tribal partners water infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including $2.9 billion for lead service line replacement in 2022. EPA’s memo provided technical guidance to states on the disadvantaged community definitions and EPA oversight of the state programs. Working collaboratively, EPA and state SRF programs continue to make progress towards Justice40.
- In May, EPA announced that it is making available $ 728billion in new federal grant funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). This funding can be used for loans that help drinking water systems install treatment for contaminants, improve distribution systems by removing lead service lines and improve system resiliency to natural disasters such as floods.
- In May, EPA issued a new funding memorandum to guide the distribution of $154 million in FY22 Tribal water infrastructure funding from the BIL to support access to safe drinking water and wastewater management in Tribal communities, including projects to replace lead pipes.
- In February, EPA announced $20 million in available grant funding to assist communities and schools with removing sources of lead in drinking water. This grant funding, and additional funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help make rapid progress on the goal of addressing lead and removing lead pipes across the country.
- In April, the Village of Elberta, Michigan received $3.4 million in grant and low-interest loans from USDA, leveraging an additional $2 million in state assistance, to improve their water system and remediate lead. Approximately, 79 percent of the service laterals in the water distribution system are known or suspected to contain lead. USDA has an additional $23.8 million in projects containing lead remediation that are nearing approval and other applications in development.
- In March, USDA provided a $350,000 award to the City of Linwood, Kansas for their Water System Improvements Project. Leveraging $499,586 in HUD’s Community Development and Block Grant funds and $150,000 in applicant contribution, this project will enable the City of Linwood to replace approximately 75 cast iron service lines that may contain lead joints and to make other necessary improvements to the distribution system.
- In March, EPA issued a Request for Applications for approximately $100 million in federal funding through the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) Grant Program. A major priority for this program is to provide technical support to disadvantaged communities across the country. Selected technical assistance providers will help communities develop and submit project proposals, including State Revolving Fund (SRF) applications for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to reduce lead in drinking water.
- Schools and child care facilities are also accessing funds for projects to replace lead lines and remediate lead plumbing, pipes, and paint. In March, the Anson Madison Water District in Maine received a $6 million low-interest loan and $3.5 million grant to mitigate lead exposure for 3,700 residents, including at two area high schools and other educational institutions. In January 2022, USDA’s Rural Development obligated $9.5 million to Columbus County, North Carolina, for the construction and cost overrun of a new replacement school facility housing Pre-K through 8th grade. This new facility replaces two school facilities ranging from 60-94 years old with asbestos in almost all flooring and lead paint throughout – ensuring the new facility meets all code requirements.
- In January, the Department of the Treasury adopted the final rule for the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, which provides for an expanded set of eligible lead remediation uses, including replacement of faucets and fixtures in schools and daycares, and confirms recipients’ ability to use funds for the replacement of lead services lines. The final rule took effect on April 1, 2022. Already, recipients of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, authorized by the American Rescue Plan, are investing more $60 million in lead remediation projects. Some examples of this include:
- The City of Toledo, OH plans to replace all private lead service lines in the city (approximately 3,000 lines) at no cost to homeowners. Additionally, the City will replace many public lead service lines co-located with private lines.
- The City of Buffalo, NY has budgeted $10 million for an expansion of the City’s ROLL program so that at least an additional 1,000 homes can have their lead water service lines replaced. The City has already successfully replaced the lines in 500 homes and this expanded capacity will more than double its impact.
- The City of Pittsburgh, PA has budgeted $17.5 million to partner with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to complete projects to remediate lead in drinking water.
Making It Easier to Access Funding
- In line with the Office of Management and Budget’s commitment to make existing sources of federal funding for lead pipes accessible to the public, in March, the President Biden’s FY23 Budget request included a summary of all the sources funding for lead pipes across the federal government.
- In May, EPA and partners across the federal government announced a renewed Tribal Infrastructure Task Force to improve federal government coordination efforts to deliver water infrastructure and financial assistance to American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages.
Removing Lead in Federally-Assisted Housing
- HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing will soon issue a FY22 notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for its Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund grant program that will support control of lead-based paint hazards in public housing.
- HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes is developing a plan for removing lead service lines from HUD-assisted housing when a public water system is replacing a water main (in the street) but is not removing the service lines at the same time.
Remediating Lead in Schools and Child Care Centers
- The Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and EPA are collaboratively developing a series of three training webinars on lead testing and remediation in drinking water throughout child care and early childhood facilities using the 3-Ts (Training, Testing, Taking Action). The webinars will provide presentations from HHS and EPA, alongside interactive tools, and case studies.
- HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes continues to partner with 289 state, tribal, and local governments on their implementing on 349 grants that use its funds to make homes of low-income children and their families lead-safe and healthy.
Closing Gaps in Childhood Lead Testing
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) to raise awareness and serve as a place for lead referrals and screening. The PEHSUs are a group of environmental health specialists who provide medical information and advice on environmental conditions that influence reproductive and children’s health. PEHSUs are academically based, typically at university medical centers.
- CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are also planning a state-to-state learning webinar to showcase the efforts of two to three states that have undertaken efforts to increase blood lead screening rates. CDC and CMS will identify examples and a platform to share approaches, best practices, and lessons learned, and encourage coordination across state agencies, to consider implementation of levers to increase blood lead screening rates.
Developing New Regulations to Protect Communities from Lead in Drinking Water
- EPA is advancing the regulatory process to develop a new proposed rule, the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements. EPA intends to propose requirements that, along with other actions, would result in the replacement of all lead service lines as quickly as is feasible. EPA also intends to consider opportunities to strengthen tap sampling requirements and explore options to reduce the complexity and confusion associated with the action level and trigger level, with a focus on reducing health risks in more communities. The goal of these potential lead service line replacement regulatory improvements—coupled with non-regulatory actions—is to more equitably protect public health.
- EPA announced on May 4, 2022 it is seeking input from stakeholder groups on the forthcoming Lead and Copper Rule Improvements proposal. EPA is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profit organizations to participate as Small Entity Representatives for a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel. EPA accepted nominations for the panel until May 18, 2022.
- At the same time, EPA is implementing the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) to help ensure that lead service line inventories are developed by public water systems by 2024.
- To further protect children from lead, EPA is working to revise the 2021 Dust Lead Clearance Levels and the related 2019 Dust Lead Hazard Standards final rules. These rules provide important provisions to protect children from exposure to lead dust on floors and windowsills. The hazard standards are used to identify a dust-lead hazard and the clearance levels are used to demonstrate adequate clean-up after abatement activities. These apply to pre-1978 homes and child-care facilities. The courts sent the previous Administration’s 2019 rule back to EPA to redo to ensure the levels are protective. EPA currently plans to propose revisions to these rules in FY 2023.