Vice President Kamala Harris to Announce Action Plan that Accelerates Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Investments to Replace All Lead Pipes in Next Decade
All Americans deserve to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and live in healthy homes. However, lead in drinking water pipes, faucets, paint, and walls threatens the health and well-being of American families and children across the country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and countless experts agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood.
Yet, up to 10 million American households connect to water through lead pipes and service lines. Children, toddlers, and teenagers in 400,000 schools and child care facilities are at risk of exposure to lead in their water. And 24 million housing units have significant lead-based paint hazards. Because of inequitable infrastructure development and disinvestment, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to these risks. President Biden and Vice President Harris believe this is unacceptable and must change. No child, no family, no teacher, no American should drink water with lead or be exposed to lead paint in their homes.
That is why the President and Vice President made replacing lead pipes a centerpiece of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – to deliver clean drinking water to families and children across America. These game-changing investments will put American plumbers and pipefitters to work replacing all of the America’s lead pipes and service lines and making other critical upgrades. All families, children, and Americans should be able to turn on the faucet at home or school and drink clean water — including in low-income communities and communities of color that have been disproportionally affected by dangerous lead pipes – while we also create good paying jobs remediating lead paint in homes.
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is releasing its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. The plan represents a historic effort of unprecedented ambition that will deploy catalytic resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law while leveraging every tool across federal, state, and local government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint. The plan includes over 15 new actions from more than 10 federal agencies that ensure the federal government is marshalling every resource to make rapid progress towards replacing all lead pipes in the next decade.
Specifically, the Administration is signaling to local, state, and federal partners it stands ready to work together to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes in the next decade, building back better where kids are – in their homes, schools, child care centers, playgrounds, and more – while focusing on the disadvantaged and often overlooked communities. And, the Administration is continuing its work with Congress to provide resources through the Build Back Better Act to provide local communities additional support for clean drinking water and lead paint removal.
The Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan takes a bold step forward to protect our families by ensuring America’s drinking water and homes are safe and healthy more than 15 new actions, including:
- Collaborating with local, state, and federal partners to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes over the next decade;
- EPA allocating $3 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to states, Tribes, and Territories for lead service line replacement in 2022, and calling on states to prioritize underserved communities;
- EPA launching a new regulatory process to protect communities from lead in drinking water;
- Treasury clarifying that the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund provided in the American Rescue Plan can be used for lead service line and lead faucet and fixture replacements;
- EPA and DOL establishing regional technical assistance hubs to fast track lead service line removal projects in partnership with labor unions and local water agencies;
- HUD awarding grants to remove lead paint and other home health hazards in low-income communities to protect children and families;
- CDC closing gaps in childhood lead testing through the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program;
- HUD, USDA, and DOI committing to remove lead service lines and paint hazards in federally-assisted housing, including Tribal housing; and
- Establishing a new Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Child Care Centers.
This funding builds on $350 billion provided in the American Rescue Plan that states, localities, and Tribes are able to utilize for lead pipes and the replacement of faucets and fixtures inside schools and child care facilities. In addition to activating these investments, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the central funding to achieve the President’s bold vision as the Administration will accelerate its efforts leveraging new and existing funds, proposing ambitious regulations, removing obstacles to lead line replacements, and creating targeted efforts to remove lead lines from federally assisted housing and schools and child care centers.
Read the full action plan below.
THE BIDEN-HARRIS LEAD PIPE AND PAINT ACTION PLAN
Lead exposure is a critical public health issue. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Even low-level lead exposure is of particular concern to developing the fetus, infants, and children. According to the CDC, more than half of children in the U.S. are at risk of lead exposure – often in their own home. The CDC recently updated its blood lead reference value to better identify children with higher levels of lead in their blood.
Up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers are served by a lead service line or pipes and other fixtures. Approximately 24 million housing units have significant lead-based paint hazards, of which 4 million of these are home to young children.
The impacts of lead pipes and paint are not evenly distributed. Low-income people and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to the risks of lead-contaminated drinking water. Non-Hispanic Black people are more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic white people to live in moderately or severely substandard housing, which are more likely to present risks from deteriorating lead-based paint.
At the same time, EPA’s 2021 Economic Analysis of the benefits of lead service line replacement show significant increases in lifetime earnings, associated with avoided intelligence quotient (IQ) loss in children, as well as reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and other adverse effects.
The Biden-Harris Administration will correct these wrongs and use every tool at its disposal to eliminate all lead service lines and remediate lead paint. The President’s agenda invests:
- $15 billion of direct funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead service line replacements at EPA through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), and an additional $11.7 billion in SRF funding for which lead pipes replacement is eligible;
- $9 billion in the Build Back Better Act for lead remediation grants to disadvantaged communities through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) program, including for schools and childcare centers at EPA;
- $1 billion in the Build Back Better Act for rural water utilities to remove lead pipes at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA);
- $5 billion in the Build Back Better Act for the mitigation and removal of lead-based paint, lead faucets and fixtures, and other housing-related health hazards in low-income households, by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and
- $65 billion of Build Back Better Act funding for public housing agencies and $5 billion for other federally-assisted housing preservation and rehabilitation, which public housing agencies and owners can use to improve housing quality; this can include replacing lead pipes and privately-owned service lines.
This funding builds on $350 billion provided in the American Rescue Plan that states, localities, and Tribes will be able to utilize for lead pipes and the replacement of faucets and fixtures inside schools and child care facilities.
In addition to activating these investments, the Administration will mobilize existing resources and programs, technical assistance, rulemaking and policy standards, and other tools to accelerate progress towards the President’s goals. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers the central funding to achieve this bold vision as the Administration will accelerate its efforts leveraging new and existing funds, proposing effective regulations, removing obstacles to lead line replacements, and creating targeted efforts to remove lead lines from federally assisted housing and schools and child care centers.
The action plan will:
1. GET RESOURCES TO COMMUNITIES
Announcing $2.9 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Lead Pipe Replacement to States, Tribes, and Territories: EPA is announcing that it will allocate $2.9 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to states, Tribes, and territories for lead service line replacement in 2022. The 2022 allocation is the first of five years of nearly $15 billion in dedicated EPA funding for lead service lines that states will receive through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. EPA will encourage states to use these funds to advance proactive lead line replacement programs with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities. Moving forward, EPA will prioritize communities with the highest lead levels and those with environmental justice concerns. EPA will also partner with states to provide technical assistance to help disadvantaged communities overcome barriers to funding through the SRFs. The 2022 allocation is the first of five years of nearly $15 billion in dedicated EPA funding for lead serve lines that states will receive through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Committing to Issue National Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Water Investments Guidance to States: In the first quarter of 2022, EPA’s Office of Water will issue national program guidance to states on water infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The guidance will be informed by robust stakeholder engagement, and will cover key implementation issues such as eligibilities, application and award requirements, compliance with Civil Rights Act Title VI, Made in America provisions, and more. The guidance will also include direction on the $15 billion in dedicated lead service line funding, including the importance of rapid progress on inventories, prioritizing disadvantaged communities in project selection, and related issues to support the efficient and equitable use of funding from the law.
Clarifying State, local, and Tribal governments can use Fiscal Recovery Funds – the $350 billion aid provided under the American Rescue Plan– for replacing lead service lines and protecting communities against lead in water: The Administration encourages state and local governments to use funds to replace lead service lines in their communities, an investment with long-term, transformational impacts for public health and family well-being. The Treasury Department will also take steps to ensure that funds can be used for a broad spectrum of services to address lead in water, including not only service line replacement but also replacement of internal plumbing and faucets and fixtures in schools and daycare centers, expanded water testing, projects to inventory lead lines, and outreach and education efforts to reach affected communities.
Establishing Regional Technical Assistance Hubs to Fast Track Lead Service Line Removal Projects:There are currently more than 148,000 public water systems in the United States. As part of the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the EPA will establish Technical Assistance Hubs in select regions with a large concentration of lead service lines. The Hubs will be designed to support local water agencies to more rapidly remove lead service lines through regional collaborations. The Hubs will support local communities in developing lead service line inventories, creating model contracts for lead service line removal projects, and leveraging union expertise. The EPA and the Department of Labor will collaborate with labor unions to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes, including the potential to leverage existing union training centers to host state training seminars on lead service line replacement technologies and to create good paying union jobs.
Awarding Grants to Protect Children and Families from Lead Paint and Home Health Hazards: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded nearly $13.2 million to state and local government agencies through its Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction (LBPHR) program. LBPHR identifies and cleans up dangerous lead in low-income households, in addition to other health and safety hazards in homes. The initial set of grants are targeted to city governments in Long Beach, California, Cleveland, Ohio, and Clarksville, Tennessee that will enable them to help low-income households in their communities to live in healthier homes free of lead paint and other hazards.
Leveraging Existing USDA Funding to Replace Lead Service Lines: USDA is committing to leverage existing funding to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes. That is why, today, Secretary Vilsack is announcing a $27.6 million investment in loans and grants to the City of Bloomer, WI, for a water and sewer upgrade and replacement of 20,000 feet of lead-jointed water mains. The removal of all lead components from the drinking system will bring drinking water back into compliance for 3,539 people.
Directing Federal Agencies to Leverage Existing Funding: OMB will issue guidance to agencies directing them to ensure existing funding is leveraged and prioritized to achieve the President’s lead remediation goal, while directing 40 percent of the benefits to disadvantaged communities and ensuring the replacement of entire lead service line. In addition, OMB will include a new lead pipes inventory of existing funding in our annual budget that tracks Administration wide investments in lead pipes.
2. UPDATE RULES AND STRENGTHEN ENFORCEMENT
Announcing the Development of a New Regulation to Protect Communities from Lead in Drinking Water: Today, EPA is announcing it will immediately begin to develop a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation: Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) to strengthen key provisions of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR). In addition, EPA is also committing to advance the following non-regulatory actions to support the replacement of 100 percent of lead pipes:
- Developing and partnering on plans to ensure the equitable distribution of funds for reducing lead in drinking water;
- Committing to oversight and technical assistance for communities impacted by high lead levels;
- Improving risk communication through additional EPA guidance and tool development; and,
- Encouraging full lead service line replacement and strongly discouraging partial lead service line replacement.
Committing to Publish New Guidance on Lead Service Lines: Today, EPA is announcing that it will issue new guidance on implementation of the existing Lead and Copper Rule that will go into effect in December, 2021. The guidance will outline the critical steps local water systems should take to achieve 100% lead service line replacement. EPA also will publish guidance for developing lead service line inventories, including best practices, case studies, and templates. EPA is also updating the Safe Drinking Water Information System to support state and tribal data management needs for inventories. EPA also will pursue research to use data analytics and other methods to make it quicker and less expensive to identify and map lead service lines.
3. REDUCE EXPOSURE IN DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES, SCHOOLS, DAYCARE CENTERS, AND PUBLIC HOUSING
Closing Gaps in Childhood Lead Testing: Today, CDC is announcing that they will identify and close gaps in childhood blood level lead testing through the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, which includes 62 funded jurisdictions across the U.S. The program conducts surveillance of blood lead levels, provides education and outreach to communities, and can respond to concerns in schools and daycare facilities with support for increased blood lead testing. Blood lead level surveillance data is used to track trends and identify risk hot spots, helping ensure federal investments reach areas with the highest levels of exposure. As service line replacement occurs, it is important to minimize unintended consequences by continuing to test the water supply and ensure that children are screened for blood-lead levels in high risk areas. CDC-funded public health programs will work closely with other state agencies to monitor and track the impact on blood lead levels.
Tracking the Benefits of Lead Pipe and Paint Investments in line with Justice40: To meet the President’s commitment to target 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities, OMB and CEQ are committing to track and make publicly available lead pipe and paint investments to disadvantaged communities.
Committing to Remove Lead Service Lines and Paint Hazards in Housing: HUD, USDA, and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are committed to eliminating lead hazards in federally-assisted housing, including tribal housing. HUD and DOI will achieve this commitment by replacing lead water service lines whenever water main feeder lines are being replaced and eliminating or mitigating lead-based paint hazards when rehabilitating housing. USDA further commits to replace lead water service lines to all homes connected to a USDA funded lead remediation project when easements exist and eliminating or mitigating lead-based paint hazards when rehabilitating housing. The agencies pledge to focus on these critical issues wherever possible.
Releasing an Updated Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposure: Today, the EPA released Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities that identifies actions that EPA and other agencies are taking to: reduce community exposures to lead sources, identify communities with high lead exposures and improve their health outcomes, communicate more effectively with stakeholders, and support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures and related health risks. This strategy looks broadly at lead exposure pathways, including through drinking water and in homes and child-occupied facilities with lead-based paint hazards.
Establishing a New Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Daycare Centers: To begin to achieve the President’s commitment to reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities, the Action Plan calls for the development of a Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Childcare Centers. This partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Agriculture will commit to make rapid progress on lead remediation in schools and child care centers—safeguarding the health and well-being of a generation of young people. The agencies will initiate the partnership by convening joint stakeholder discussions to gather input from those on the frontlines of lead contamination in schools and childcare centers. The engagements will identify priority areas for coordination across the agencies; opportunities to align funds; address data gaps on lead contamination at schools and child care centers; and development of coordinated guidance to reduce the risk of lead exposure in the nation’s schools and childcare facilities. This Interagency Partnership will build on several foundational actions currently underway at the agencies, including:
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): EPA will allocate funding through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, including $25 million in 2022 to improve drinking water quality in small, underserved, and disadvantaged communities. EPA will also continue its 3Ts (Training, Testing, and Taking Action) program for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities. The program develops and disseminates tools and educational resources for states, schools, and childcare facilities on implementing a sustainable lead remediation programs, conducting lead tests, taking action to reduce lead exposure, and communicating results and action quickly and effectively to the parents, staff, and others who might be affected.
- Department of Education (ED): ED is working with federal partners to support schools in using the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and State and Local Relief funds to reduce lead exposure and provide clean drinking water in schools. ED will also continue to advance healthy school environments through the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award with the benefit of input from engaged stakeholders and federal partners. ED will also use its leadership and public engagement, technical assistance, and research, to address a variety of environmental matters in schools, such as lead in water. ED has recently stood up a Core Environment, Sustainability, and Infrastructure Team (CESIT) and will determine how it can best address these issues and provide appropriate and useful guidance to education stakeholders. ED is developing a proactive plan of action to advance school sustainability, health, and environment with input and participation from the federal family. ED expects to spotlight actions to address ventilation and lead in water, among other topics.
- Health and Human Services (HHS): HHS will pursue actions through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). CDC’s nation-wide network of Childhood Lead Prevention Program (CLPPP) Grantees and Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSU) will continue to support lead poisoning prevention activities across the country. CDC currently funds 56 CLPPPs including support for 48 state programs, DC, and Puerto Rico. CLPPP recipients ensure a connection with schools and child care facilities to identify children with elevated blood lead levels and provide care services to children that are at-risk. CDC’s grants will educate child care providers and school staff about lead poisoning and the importance of early lead screening, establish partnerships with local and state agencies to conduct water testing for lead to assure childcare facilities are lead-safe or lead-free, and create outreach material to prevent lead exposure through drinking water. CDC also will continue to support the PESHUs, which are regional centers of excellence for support to clinicians dealing with patient concerns associated with environmental hazards, such as lead. Both the CLPPPs and the PEHSUs support lead elimination activities in schools and early education centers by providing technical assistance, education, and outreach. HHS will also pursue actions through the Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA will pursue actions through its Rural Development Mission Area, including efforts to prevent lead poisoning within Community Facilities and Business Programs. In addition to complying with requirements for renovation and repair work on child occupied facilities, the Community Facilities Program will continue to fund eligible projects for installation of water filter stations in schools and childcare facilities. Schools and childcare facilities may also seek funds for eligible projects to replace lead service lines through Water and Environmental Programs.