The Journey Towards Lead Pipe Replacement in the U.S.

Posted by Jordan Fues on Apr 20, 2023

Medical and public health experts agree: There is no “safe” level of lead in the human body. Unfortunately, many lead sewer and water pipes are still in place across the country; according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are approximately 9.2 million lead service lines (pipes that connect homes to the water main) in the U.S. As these lines and other lead plumbing fixtures age, they’re at higher risk of corrosion and are therefore more likely to leach lead into water supplies. With this knowledge in mind, it’s essential that lead pipe replacement programs take center stage to protect public health. 

The Importance of Lead Pipe ReplacementDo Not Drink Sign

Research on the devastating effects of lead exposure is widespread but cannot be overstated. High levels of exposure to lead, also known as lead poisoning, can cause permanent neurological damage, harm to reproductive health, cardiovascular disease, and even death. Exposure to this neurotoxin is particularly dangerous to infants and young children, who absorb lead more easily than adults do.  

The U.S. government is working towards full replacement of all of the nation’s lead pipes over the next ten years. The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which dedicated a total of $50 billion in funding to EPA to improve the country’s drinking water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, has been beneficial to this goal’s success. $3 billion of that funding will be available to states, territories and Tribes as part of the Drinking Water Revolving State Fund (DWRSF) Lead Service Line Replacement Allotment program. 

Funding for Lead Pipe Replacement 

While replacing your community’s lead piping is an expensive and intimidating task, funding is available to assist utilities and states with these improvements. In addition to the DWRSF, the HUD Development Community Block Grant, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act Grants, and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act are examples of federal funding sources for lead pipe replacement projects. These resources can help your crew keep local drinking water and discharges safe for your family and community.  

Envirosight's guide to understanding municipal grants lays out helpful information for water and wastewater professionals looking to learn about the grant process. Request your free copy of the guide today.

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Topics: All Topics EPA Health and Hygiene Regulations