EDF Health

Selected tag(s): Lead service line replacement

Lead Pipes: EDF comments on EPA’s proposed Lead & Copper Rule Improvements

Graphic of lead service lines connected to homes

What’s New

Earlier this week EDF submitted comments that urged EPA to finalize the strongest possible improvements to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCRI). An estimated 9.2 million lead service lines (LSLs) are still connected to homes and buildings throughout the country. EPA’s proposal is a critical step to protect Americans from the harmful of effects of lead in drinking water by requiring LSL replacement.

Why It Matters

The EPA’s proposal, if finalized, would protect public health and yield huge socioeconomic benefits. This rule presents a critical opportunity to fix this longstanding environmental injustice. Read More »

Posted in Drinking water, Environmental justice, Lead, Public health / Also tagged , , , , , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

Eliminating lead service lines yields huge benefits for reducing premature cardiovascular deaths

What’s New?

EPA has proposed improvements to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to reduce lead in drinking water. The proposed rule would require utilities to eliminate the nation’s roughly 9.2 million lead service lines (LSLs) at an estimated cost of $2.1 to $2.9 billion per year.1

The socioeconomic benefits from the rule vastly outweigh the cost and range from $17.3 to $34.8 billion per year2 – a whopping 8 to 12 times the annual cost of replacement. Read More »

Posted in Drinking water, Lead, Public health, Rules/Regulations / Also tagged , , , , , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

Flaws found in EPA’s lead pipe survey of states and water utilities

Deep Dive: Read our Deep Dives blog for an in-depth analysis on the data that drove the 2023 allocation of federal funding for lead service line replacements.

What’s New: EPA recently estimated there are 9.2 million lead service lines (LSLs) in the nation’s drinking water infrastructure based on information reported by states and water utilities. This was collected as part of a survey conducted every four years to understand drinking water infrastructure needs.

The agency estimated the number of LSLs for each state. Two had surprisingly high numbers: Florida with 1.2 million LSLs and Texas with 650,000.

After reviewing data EPA used to estimate each state’s totals[1], we believe that these two may have less than 100,000 LSLs each. If true, this means the country may actually have about 1.6 million fewer LSLs than originally thought – good news overall.

Read More »

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Top 10 cities with the most lead pipes

Roya Alkafaji, Manager, Healthy Communities and Tom Neltner, Senior Director, Safer Chemicals Initiative

EDF identified 10 cities in the U.S. with the most lead service lines (LSLs) based on numbers reported in 2021.[1] These cities collectively have over one million LSLs, representing 12% of the 9.2 million EPA estimates are in the country.

Below we rank each city from most LSLs to fewest, and briefly describe the progress each city has made toward LSL replacement. Some have robust programs, while others have yet to start addressing the problem.

The List

1. Chicago, IL

Chicago Department of Water Management reported 387,095 LSLs in 2021, more than twice as many as the next city on this list. Three-quarters of its service lines are LSLs, and virtually all the rest are of unknown material. City ordinance actually mandated that LSLs be installed until the federal government banned them in 1986.

Decades later, Chicago is struggling to pull itself out of a deep hole relative to most other large cities that took earlier action against lead pipes. Chicago has a small LSL replacement program but applied for a $336 million loan from EPA in 2020[2] and $8 million in state revolving funds (SRF) from Illinois EPA in 2023 to accelerate the effort.

2. Cleveland, OH

Cleveland Water reported 185,409 LSLs in 2021, about 43% of all its service lines.

The utility has a small LSL replacement program but is seeking more than $63 million in federal infrastructure funding from Ohio EPA in 2023 to accelerate the effort.

3. New York, NY

New York City reported 137,542 LSLs in 2021 and an additional 230,870 lines that are of unknown material. About 43% of the city’s service lines are lead or of unknown material.

It has a small LSL replacement program and is seeking more than $58 million in federal infrastructure funding from New York State DEP in 2023 to accelerate the effort.

Read More »

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Mapping Lead: New Jersey State map as a backbone for real progress on lead

Tom Neltner, Senior Director, Safer Chemicals Initiative and Roya Alkafaji, Manager, Healthy Communities

What Happened: The State of New Jersey published an interactive map showing potential sources of lead exposure for any given address in the state. Currently, the map specifically looks at lead-based paint in housing, though the State has plans to expand this to include other sources of lead, including drinking water from lead service lines (LSLs).

Why It Matters: The availability of address-specific information is important to engage residents, potential home buyers, and renters so they can make better informed decisions about protecting their families from harmful lead exposure. New Jersey is the first state to move beyond neighborhood-level mapping of lead risks to provide specific information about lead at the address level.

The map uses housing age as an indicator to assess risk to lead exposure, which is an excellent place to start because it is relevant to the prevalence of both lead-based paint and lead in drinking water.

As more information is added on lead pipes, lead-contaminated soil, and nearby commercial operations that release lead, as well as details on lead poisoning prevention requirements, the map will become a critical tool in the effort to comprehensively consider lead risks and drive exposure closer to zero.

Source: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Potential Lead Exposure Mapping (click on Lead-based paint tab at the top and zoom in until you see parcel-level detail with color overlays)

Read More »

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Lead Pipe Replacement: EPA changes state shares of funding

Lindsay McCormick, Senior Manager, Safer Chemicals, Tom Neltner, Senior Director, Safer Chemicals and Roya Alkafaji, Manager, Healthy Communities

What Happened?

Earlier this month, EPA announced an updated formula it will use to allocate federal funds for lead service line (LSL) replacements. This new formula will be based on each state’s expected needs, as determined by a 2021 survey of state and water utility estimates.

Why It Matters

EPA’s distribution of the first of five years of the historic $15 billion dedicated to LSL replacement from the Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act (IIJA) was not necessarily going to states and communities that needed it most.

Many water utilities rely on the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program to build and maintain their drinking water infrastructure. EPA funds SRF programs each year and their previous formula to determine allocations was based on a 2015 survey of estimated drinking water infrastructure funding needs including LSL replacement – putting populous states like California at the top of the list. However, a 2016 article by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) showed LSLs are most heavily concentrated in the Midwest and Northeast, in states like Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and New Jersey.

With EPA’s new formula, each state’s need, based on its estimated number of LSLs, will be used to distribute the next four years of IIJA funding for LSL replacement. This is a critical step to ensure that the system for distributing federal funds is functioning equitably and funds go to those communities with the greatest needs.

Projected Number of Lead Services Lines by State–2023

But wait…what’s going on in Florida and Texas?

When we dug into the details, there was one surprise in particular. Florida’s level of funding has increased a whopping 228%, based on a new estimate that the state has 1.2 million LSLs – more than any other state – and that about one in every six of its service lines is an LSL. Based on the age of infrastructure in the state, we think that this number is a gross overestimate. If we’re right, other states will get shorted on their share of LSL-replacement funding.

At first blush, data from Texas also caught our eye. The state reported almost 650,000 LSLs – up from 270,000 in the AWWA survey. But in contrast to Florida, this means Texas is claiming that only 5% of all its services lines are LSLs. Overall, Texas’ funding under the new formula will decrease by one-third.

What’s Next?

Starting this federal fiscal year (October 1, 2023), states will receive their new allocations of IIJA funding for LSL replacement. We’ll continue to monitor the funding flowing into each state for the critical task of getting the lead out, especially in communities that need it most. For states like Florida that may be in line for more than their fair share, we’ll be monitoring where those dollars are going.

Want to learn more?

Check out EPA’s detailed factsheet: 7th Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment

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