Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Here’s How Federal Investments in Safe Drinking Water Infrastructure Are Improving Public Health
Press Release

RELEASE: Here’s How Federal Investments in Safe Drinking Water Infrastructure Are Improving Public Health

Washington, D.C. — Across the country, communities are affected by millions of active lead service lines (LSLs). Estimates suggest that every single state in the country has at least 2,800 LSLs, affecting nearly 22 million people in total, disproportionately people of color and those from low-income households. The Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) made a $50 billion investment in safe drinking water—the largest investment in the nation’s history. A new Center for American Progress report examines the implementation of IIJA investments to date in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while offering lessons and recommendations for other states seeking to remove dangerous and unhealthy exposure to lead from drinking water systems.

The report offers five recommendations on how states should leverage IIJA resources to improve access to safe drinking water: 

  1. Use the best available data to document the LSL landscape and track progress and impact. 
  2. Prioritize equity and environmental justice in LSL replacement strategies by targeting funds to communities disproportionately exposed to lead in their drinking water.
  3. Replace entire LSLs—not just the portion owned by the local drinking water authority—to minimize harm and eliminate lead exposure.
  4. Seek community input, invest in meaningful community engagement, and build community trust in state leaders and utility service providers.
  5. Offer effective shorter-term solutions to protect communities from ongoing lead exposures as they wait for LSL replacements and offer support for accessing treatment.

“Safe drinking water is a fundamental human right that escapes millions of Americans,” said Jill Rosenthal, director of Public Health at CAP and co-author of the report. “The Biden administration’s funding for LSL replacements and technical assistance through the IIJA, together with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to strengthen the Lead and Copper Rule, creates an unprecedented opportunity to eliminate harmful LSLs in all communities.”

Read the report: How Federal Investments in Safe Drinking Water Infrastructure Are Improving Public Health” by Jill Rosenthal, Allie Schneider, Hailey Gibbs, and Mariam Rashid 

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at snadeau@americanprogress.org.

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