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Higgins supports push to distribute infrastructure funding for lead pipe replacement based on state need


Mon, Aug 22nd 2022 11:20 am

Says current formula gives some states more than necessary, while falling short in providing states like New York adequate resources to replace existing lead service lines

Congressman Brian Higgins is among 50 members of Congress calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to see that funding authorized for lead service line (LSL) replacement through the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law” is allocated to states based on need.

“One of the goals of the infrastructure law was to remove and replace every lead service line in America, ensuring every child, family and household has access to clean drinking water,” Higgins said. “There is funding is in this law to finally make that happen, we just have to work to ensure it reaches the communities that need it most.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $55 billion to improve access to clean water, including $15 billion through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund specifically for lead service line removal.

Higgins’ team said, “The most recent Driving Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment (DWINSA) was completed in 2015 and does not accurately evaluate the lead service line replacement burden for reach state. Higgins and others in Congress are calling for a new survey to be expedited to provide a better picture of lead service line needs.

“New York has approximately 360,000 lead service lines, which would cost an estimated $883.7 million to be addressed. Based on the old formula, the state would receive $612 million in federal funding, leaving a shortfall of $271.7 million necessary to replace all lead service lines in the state.”

In the letter from Higgins and his colleagues, they note, “According to two surveys sponsored by the American Water Works Association, the seven states with the greatest prevalence of LSLs had 50% of the nation’s total. Yet based on the 2015 DWINSA, EPA would only allot 18% of LSLR funding to those seven states bearing the majority of LSL burden.”

In addition to New York, 13 other states – including Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and New Jersey – would also see large shortfalls, while many states would receive more funding than needed to remove lead service lines. For example, Texas has 270,000 lead services lines, less than New York, but is slated to receive over $1.17 billion in funding, which is over $513 million more than needed to replace lead lines. (Table)

Higgins has previously supported efforts to replace lead service lines in Western New York. Working with Mayor Byron Brown, the City of Buffalo is allocating $10 million of the $331 million secured by Higgins for Buffalo through the American Rescue Plan for the Replacing Old Lead Lines (ROLL) program. In July, the congressman participated in an announcement with the Buffalo Sewer Authority, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and local organizations of a $470,000 privately funded grant through Google for the mapping of lead service lines in Buffalo. Higgins also personally requested and delivered $570,000 in this year’s federal budget for a workforce development program to “put people in quality jobs to help rebuild Buffalo’s water infrastructure.”

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