Home Virginia receives more than $49M from Biden program to replace lead water pipes
Politics, State/National

Virginia receives more than $49M from Biden program to replace lead water pipes

(© Brian Jackson – stock.abobe.com)

President Joe Biden’s Investing in America is providing Virginia more than $49 million to identify and replace lead service lines, and prevent exposure to lead in drinking water.

Lead can cause a range of serious health impacts, including irreversible harm to brain development in children.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the funding today as part of Biden’s commitment to replace every lead pipe in the United States. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and available through EPA’s successful Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), Virignia’s funding takes another major step to advance the work and the Administration’s commitment to environmental justice. The funding builds on the Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan and EPA’s Get the Lead Out Initiative.

Working collaboratively, EPA and the State Revolving Funds are advancing the President’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure that 40 percent of overall benefits from certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. Lead exposure disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income families. The total funding announced through the program is expected to replace up to 1.7 million lead pipes nationwide, securing clean drinking water for 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 through lead pipes,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said. “President Biden understands it is critical to identify and remove lead pipes as quickly as possible, and he has secured significant resources for states and territories to accelerate the permanent removal of dangerous lead pipes once and for all.”

According to EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz, “states are getting boosts from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will improve lives, strengthen communities, and protect our most vulnerable populations. This funding brings us much closer to replacing all lead service lines throughout the nation.”

“I’m glad that the Commonwealth is set to receive significant funding that will enable the identification and replacement of unsafe lead pipes that have disastrous impacts on health,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said. “This funding will help to ensure that every Virginian has access to the clean, safe water they deserve.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said lead pipes cause harm to “the health and well-being of our communities. I’m glad to have helped pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is bringing these funds to Virginia to replace these dangerous lead pipes and protect drinking water.”

Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests a historic $15 billion to identify and replace lead service lines. The law mandates that 49 percent of funds provided through the DWSRF General Supplemental Funding and DWSRF Lead Service Line Replacement Funding must be provided as grants and forgivable loans to disadvantaged communities, a crucial investment for communities that have been underinvested in for too long. EPA projects a national total of 9 million lead services lines across the country, based on data collected from the updated 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. The funding announced today will be provided specifically for lead service line identification and replacement and will help every state and territory fund projects to remove lead pipes and reduce exposure to lead from drinking water.

The Lead Service Line-specific formula used to allot these funds allows states to receive financial assistance commensurate with their need as soon as possible, furthering public health protection nationwide. The formula and allotments are based on need, which means that states with more projected lead service lines receive proportionally more funding.

Alongside 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 exposure to lead in drinking water. Additionally, EPA has developed new outreach documents to help water systems educate their customers on drinking water issues, health impacts of lead exposure, service line ownership, and how customers can support the identification of potential lead service lines in their homes.

For more information, including state-by-state allotment of 2024 funding, and a breakdown of EPA’s lead Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, visit EPA’s Drinking Water website.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.