The LSLR Collaborative’s new guide helps communities design equitable lead service line replacement programs

Guest post from Mason Hines, Mediator with RESOLVE and Facilitator for the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative.  See the original post here.

For over six years, RESOLVE has convened the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative, a joint effort of 28 national public health, water utility, environmental, labor, consumer, housing, and state and local governmental organizations to accelerate full removal of the lead pipes providing drinking water to millions of American homes.

A guiding principle of the LSLR Collaborative is that lead service line (LSL) replacement program should consider and address barriers to participation so that people served by LSLs can benefit equitably, regardless of income, race, or ethnicity. Questions of equity surface at many points in the design of LSL replacement programs, including determining how replacements are funded, how to sequence replacement schedules, and how the program is communicated to community members.

Understanding these are important and complex questions, the LSLR Collaborative recently released a step-by-step guide communities can use to help consider and account for issues of equity when developing LSL replacement programs. This guide is organized around a series of five essential questions:

  1. What activities does an LSL replacement program include?
    This step helps users account for all of the elements of an LSL replacement program.
  2. What aspects of an LSL replacement program might have disparate impact and why?
    This step helps users consider activities in an LSL replacement program that could impact community members differently based on race, ethnicity, primary language spoken, income, historic community development patterns, and other factors. Examining each activity can help communities develop a program that alleviates existing inequities and does not create new ones.
  3. Where are impacts anticipated?
    This step helps users identify which locations in the community the replacement program will affect. In this context, the most obvious affected areas are those places served by an LSL and places where construction will need to be done to replace an LSL.
  4. Who might be impacted?
    This step helps users consider who lives in the households or neighborhood where LSLs exist and who will be affected by the activities in LSL replacement programs. It also points users to data sources where they can find demographic information about communities.
  5. How can adverse impacts be addressed?
    This step helps users consider how potentially disparate impacts of an LSL replacement program might be prevented or mitigated in the design of the program by overlaying different types of data. This process can help communities make decisions about where to prioritize LSL replacements, funding, and other factors to help ensure everyone served by LSLs can benefit equitably from a replacement program.

This new resource also provides a compilation of dozens of tools and data sources communities can use to help make more equitable decisions around LSL replacement. These include existing indices that track equity concerns geographically, such as EPA’s EJSCREEN, and community-level demographic datasets that provide information such as age and household makeup, education, race and ethnicity, income level, and other characteristics that describe a community.

Learn more about the LSLR Collaborative and check out the guide to equity analysis as well as many other resources by visiting lslr-collaborative.org.

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